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Quality Control

November 7, 2017

When we received our advance copy of the new J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide in September we found two of the three volumes hard to remove from the slipcase. It seems that too much glue was used in making the box, and perhaps also that the books were put into the slipcase before the liner glue had dried. As a result, when we took the books out of the case one of the dust-jackets had lining paper stuck to it (which we were able to remove), while another jacket lost some of the paper surface of its leading edges, stuck to the liner.

We notified HarperCollins of this problem at once, and their staff have since inspected warehouse copies of the boxed set. Finding some with the same problem, HarperCollins have had new jackets printed and manually replaced them. This naturally caused a delay in shipping some of the boxed sets. The issue with the box liner doesn’t apply to copies to be sold separately, of course, and those are still on schedule to be released on 30 November. The ebook version will also be published on that date.

At the same time, however, HarperCollins have received orders for the boxed set far beyond the number they had predicted, and have taken the new Companion and Guide back to press. They have also received an order from the Folio Society for copies to sell to its members. This is all good news for us, but another cause of shipping delay. We’re told that Amazon are now waiting for HarperCollins to confirm when it will have more copies in stock before changing the status it lists, which is currently for dispatching within two to four weeks.

  1. Jan Alva permalink
    November 7, 2017 9:17 am

    we should all have such problems (demand – supply = an period of Entish introspection…aka: don’t be hasty!)….Congratulations! Anticipation will only make our wonder….more wonderful.

  2. November 7, 2017 10:40 am

    Congrats on the second printing!

  3. Douglas Bailey permalink
    November 7, 2017 3:58 pm

    I’m happy to report that my boxed edition seems fine: no problems removing the books from the box. *whew*

    I’ll second the congratulations on getting to the second printing so soon. Well done!

    • November 8, 2017 1:53 pm

      My copy is delayed by Amazon( for 1-2 months, althouth it still says to be delivred untill 10.11.17. Could you please take few real photos of your new set and share it with link here or somehow. HarperCollins always experience strange (in my opinion) problems with giving at least few real photos of their new items. Thank you in advance.

  4. November 7, 2017 4:06 pm

    Great news and well done to you both. Looking forward to this expanded version. I hope this shows HarperCollins that research into Tolkien is the way forward. Updated and massively expanded Letters would be very useful.

  5. November 7, 2017 4:20 pm

    Very pleased that your hard work on this revised edition has paid off.

    No real surprise to me that a lot more people than HarperCollins expected, such as myself, have ordered the all three books in the box set, over the individual volumes.

    I don’t think that sales of the books which are sold separately will do well until the price is significantly reduced by resellers, in line with the current price reduction on the box set.

  6. November 9, 2017 9:55 pm

    I got my copy today! It had a slight bit of the defect you noted (paper stuck to the fore-edge of the third volume), but it peeled off easily enough, and I don’t mind in any event. THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH for this TRULY indispensable work! I use it ALL the time in my editing work.

  7. Dmitriy T permalink
    November 10, 2017 12:03 am

    Can you take, please, a shot of your set and share with link here or send to mail ) thank you

  8. Trotter permalink
    November 11, 2017 5:13 am

    You can see some pictures here

  9. inusrrbution permalink
    November 11, 2017 8:59 pm

    No offence to Harper Collins…but why does this happen?

    All this should be ironed out well before the publication date. The Hobbit Facsimile Edition was a disaster, and now this.

    I mean, isn’t Harper Collins one of the world’s leading publishers? And this is TOLKIEN after all!

    Sorry to rant, but it astounds me that this happens. they really need to ramp up their quality control…

  10. Trotter permalink
    November 13, 2017 12:01 pm

    Got my copy today from Amazon in the UK, and the quality issues mentioned seemed to have been resolved, no problems with the dust-jackets and the slipcase does not have any excess glue, at least in my copy.

  11. Colin Harper permalink
    November 14, 2017 2:00 pm

    Sinmilar to Trotter, my copy has also arrived from Amazon UK and there are no negative quality issues. Once again, a staggering achievement, W & C – well done!

    • Colin Harper permalink
      November 14, 2017 2:02 pm

      There is, though, a quality issue in my comment: “similar”… or, if I was being ruthlessly accurate, “similarly”… I’ll stop there before another typo creeps in.

  12. November 14, 2017 2:34 pm

    Srill no movement here in Germany from Amazon. May well have to chase them as others who ordered much later in the UK have received the set.

  13. Bruce permalink
    November 14, 2017 9:59 pm

    Mine arrived Monday or today at the PO. Survived the trip and is in pretty good shape, slightly crumpled corner on box and Chronology. It was shipped in a weak cardboard box with inadequate paper packing. The volumes easily came out of the box. The box seems to have a somewhat wide back panel, maybe a ‘fixed’ set. Thank you for the wonderful books.

  14. November 16, 2017 10:13 am

    My box arrived today, I can see where the DJ was stuck, a little glue has damaged the DJ of the RGVol2 but its no biggy. I have already removed and boxed the the dusts anyway.
    The physical build of the box is lovely. Strong, solid and it is nice to see a little dedication to design with the JRRT logo proudly on the sides.

    Well done and congratulations to both of you, this will be, like your first edition previously, the most useful item of research on my shelves and it deserves no less.

  15. November 16, 2017 2:58 pm

    My copy has finally arrived from Amazon co uk (in Ukraine) 15.11.17. Packed by Amazon co uk (UPS Express Delivery) with total disrespect of normal ways to protect the item (Thebookdepository com never does such stupid things and protect heavy items perfectly with a huge bubbles-packaging).

    The Tolkien Companion and Guide (3 vol.) edition was for me a huge news, big expectations, but resulted in big delivery delays (almost 2 weeks later that was appointed when placing order with express delivery; all because of stock problems and 1st print glue issues) and now in I’ve met a quality issues with my copy. 

    My 3rd volume (2nd Guide volume N-Z) has a binding quality issue. Here what I have found about this volume.

    Photos here:

    The last blank page where the cover is glued to it has a paper that is abnormally thin and a little teared. Looks really weak. I’m afraid it will soon detach, as I open and turn over the pages. Moreover its first 6-10 pages bottom corners were bent inside.

    Waited so long to receive it. And here what I’ve got.

    I have contacted Amazon co uk and they just (as expected for seller) asked me to send it back from Ukraine, wait few weeks to be delivered, processed, replaced, sent and hope that the new set will have no issues in any of 3 volumes. I think it’s too much( I’ll almost sure it will take long time of a month or more and there is a big probability to get another issue in one of next 3 volumes. Moreover they have constant problems with this item stock. So replacing would take really a long time for my location.

    They refused my demand just to send for free the 2nd Guide (N-Z) volume when it becomes available separately (unlike Thebookdepository who, according to my u-years experience, would just replace the whole set for free or partly/fully refunded to let me buy 3rd volume once again). And I think it would be the best solution. Unfortunately there were too much of circumstances that I cannot influence on, but this is me who must once again WAIT, DO SOMETHING just to receive the product of a decent quality and that I have pre-paid for a long time ago. Absolutely unacceptable situation.

    All the returning story that Amazon co uk proposes becomes more complex regarding my residence out of EU, in Ukraine. It took a lot longer and costs more. This is why I see full set replacing as a bad solution.

    Honestly I possess almost all of HarperCollins Tolkien books editions and this item created for me the most of problems.

    I contracted HarperCollins directly about this situation (case reference 00961409), but 24 hours later I still got no answer.

    When it becomes available, I will probably be forced to buy the 3rd volume (2nd Guide volume N-Z) separately for my own money and to hope this copy would be ok.

    This is my story.

  16. November 28, 2017 7:27 pm

    Hi W&C

    A small reference error in Reader’s Guide, Vol2, p1505. Bagme Bloma corrected and revised in The Road to Middle-earth, 1st ed, 1982 is on pp227-8 rather than pp226-7

    The new set is really great. There is so much art that HarperCollins should be commissioning the two of you to complete The Art of series with The Art of The Silmarillion.

    • April 10, 2018 8:34 pm

      Thank you! We’ll make a correction.

      We have thought about an Art of The Silmarillion, but there isn’t quite the amount of relevant pictures that we have for The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.

  17. January 1, 2018 3:09 pm

    Early in the chapter “Fog on the Barrow-downs” there is ‘Eastward the Barrowdowns rose’ – is the missing hyphen a typographical omission?

    • April 10, 2018 8:23 pm

      Sorry for the delay in replying. In what edition do you find ‘Barrowdowns’ at this point in the text? In our copy-text (the 2002 edition) for the 50th anniversary edition, it reads ‘Barrow-downs’, and this was the form in every instance in the copy-text except for one in the Appendices, which we regularized to the dominant form in the current edition.

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