The Children of Hurin, which came out April 17, has topped numerous best-seller lists. For the release of the book there where held two official publication events, one in London and one in New York. For these events there where made signed bookplates which where glued inside the books. Collectors pay a lot of money for copies of The Children of Hurin featuring bookplates, since these where signed by both the editor Christopher Tolkien and the illustrator Alan Lee. This article will try and give some insight on how rare the bookplates actually are and will also bring some light on the total amount of copies printed of both the UK and US hardback and deluxe editions. All info for this article was obtained from David Brawn the publishing director of Harper Collins, a spokesman from Houghton Mifflin and a spokesman from Waterstones London who organized the London Release event for the Children of Hurin.
The Children of Hurin by Harper Collins
The HarperCollins print run of The Children of Hurin in hardback edition was approximate 240,000 copies worldwide. Because of the high demand Harper Collins is currently reprinting more than 100,000 copies for worldwide dispatch. The Harper Collins deluxe edition quantity is 10,000 copies. Some were shipped by airfreight, others are following by sea freight, hence some places ran out of the initial copies quite quickly, but the stock is being replenished. So far the Deluxe edition has not been sold out.
The Children of Hurin by Houghton Mifflin
The Houghton Mifflin print run of The Children of Hurin in hardback edition was approximate 250,000 copies. Houghton Mifflin is currently also reprinting more than 100,000. The Houghton Mifflin deluxe edition first printing was also 10,000 copies, but is already being reprinted. The number of extra copies is still unclear.
The bookplates signed by Christopher Tolkien and Alan Lee
Already on the 18th of April we could read in an article by Reuters that Christopher Tolkien had signed 750 bookplates. In a mail with Harper Collins I was told there where 550 bookplates for Houghton Mifflin and 200 for HarperCollins. The 550 bookplates where first signed in the south of France by Christopher Tolkien and then by the illustrator Alan Lee in England, before being sent to the US. The 200 bookplates for Harper Collins where only signed by Christopher Tolkien and not by Alan Lee.
Because these 200 signed bookplates where used at Waterstone’s, where Alan Lee would do a signing session and people had a chance to collect the second signature in person. Originally Waterstone’s had announced there where 50 signed bookplates for the first 50 visitors of the release event. But since they had more people than anticipated, and instead of saving the 150 other bookplates for another event, Harper Collins donated some extra bookplates. Waterstone's Piccadilly thought they were getting only 100 extra, but in the end sold almost 200 books with bookplates on the release day. Sadly nobody counted the exact amount of bookplates that where glued inside the deluxe editions, but for sure there are more UK copies with signed bookplates then some people thought there where. Most of the UK bookplates are signed on the bookplate by Christopher Tolkien and signed by Alan Lee on the title page. But some also made Alan Lee sign the bookplate. Most of the times Alan Lee also dated the copy. Since Bernard Hill, king Theoden in the Peter Jackson movies, was also there some people also had their books signed by him. Other people attending where David Brawn and Adam Tolkien; copies with there signatures also exist. For the New York Release Event at Barnes & Nobles there where prepared 450 bookplates, as mentioned above these where signed by both the editor of The Children of Hurin as the illustrator. Also at the New York release no one counted how many bookplates where glued inside deluxe editions and how many in hardback editions, but both where sold [EDIT 15/05/07: I was informed by Houghton Mifflin that NO Deluxe Editions where sold at the NYC Release! So only hardback US editions with the signed bookplate exist]. During the event more then 450 bookplates where sold, but the exact numbers are uncertain. Next to the 200 UK and 450 US bookplates there where a lot of competitions where people could win a copy of the Children of Hurin with a signed bookplate, for example at the online Children of Hurin Release Party we gave away three UK deluxe editions with a signed bookplate. After making some quick calculations it seemed the 750 copies mentioned in the Reuters article did not seem a realistic figure any longer. In fact David Brawn confirmed this earlier this week. With his permission I confirm that Christopher signed approximately 900 bookplates, rather than the 750 quoted elsewhere. Most have been used for the Tolkien Estate's own presentation copies, competition prizes, and HarperCollins review copies. Some of these will remain uncirculated and this is why HarperCollins did not announce these additional numbers. For those desperate to have another chance to win a copy of The Children of Hurin with a signed bookplate there is also good news, since both Houghton Mifflin and HarperCollins have some bookplates that are yet unused and will be reserved for future competitions or presentations. It is even possible that Christopher Tolkien and Alan Lee will sign more bookplates for promotions later in the year
A typical US The Children of Hurin Signed bookplate always has the two autographs and both have been signed with what seems to be the same pen! Uk copies are always signed with a different pen...
There are much more US bookplates then UK bookplates and more bookplates in hardback editions then in deluxe editions.
The Children of Hurin copies signed by Alan Lee
The illustrator Alan Lee did other book signings in the UK the week after the 17th of April. Sometimes copies of The Children of Hurin are flat signed, sometimes dated, sometimes dedicated. Though he did only four bookshop signings and one private event, the demand has been huge, so there will be hundreds of these in circulation, both standard and deluxe. One thing is sure, there are no signed copies flat signed by Christopher Tolkien in existence; if it does come up for sale it will probably be a fake.
|left: a dated copy from a signing event
above: a treble signed bookplate from the
London Releas Event (C. Tolkien, A. Lee, B. Hill)
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