In Praise of the Library

The Band reviews Castalia History’s THE LANDMARK THUCYDIDES as well as the significance of the historical author.

Some time ago, we posted about a prestige copy of Dante purchased from Castalia Library. High-quality bookmaking is something of a declining art in the carcass of “the West”, so it was a pleasant surprise to see an initiative like this. Even more so to see the quality given the start-up nature of the project. We haven’t commented since because Castalia works mainly on a subscription basis and while we are appreciative, we aren’t subscribers. That’s not a criticism, just personal budget priorities – we read very little fiction at all. If you’re interested in quality books that are only getting better at an unbeatable price, that’s the place for you. The Divine Comedy was bought out of interest – excess copies are sold individually, but prices are considerably higher and they do sell out. Prestige publishing is expensive because the materials are costly. Print on demand or large inventories aren’t economically viable, so when a run is all sold, that’s it unless there’s a second edition.

Things changed with the launch of a second subscription line called Castalia History. This focuses on the sort of significant historical works worthy of prestige treatment. The books cost a bit more, but are larger on average, so the good value remains. And the content was something we were willing to commit to. Since the launch, the decision has only gotten better.

We aren’t prestige market collectors – as noted before, we have a huge library, but it was built for content volume. But book collecting is a real thing, and CH has sold out its first three volumes without any outreach or promotion in the collector market at all. The Cambridge deal came out of the blue as far as subscribers are concerned – and is really the first sign of mainstream exposure. And you don’t have to be a collector to appreciate inevitable increase in the value of your possessions.

This post will look at The Landmark Thucydides, the first volume in the Castalia History series and the book that made us decide to sign up. It precedes the Cambridge deal but represents the same kind of enduring resource that never goes out of vogue. The goal this time isn’t a big comparison, but what makes Thucydides culturally and historically significant – in reality and the House of Lies, an assessment of this edition, and thoughts about the arts of binding and cultural revival. The tl,dr is that as subscribers we’re not impartial, but are extremely happy with the books we’ve received.

We’re very pleased that our subscribers are as happy with their books as they are, but we are by no means content to rest on our laurels. Next week, the techs arrive to commission our new machines and train us in their use, which will mark the beginning of the next phase of the Library as it will significantly expand our productive capacities.

Without naming any names, it might amuse our subscribers to know that one publisher has already declared it will never work with the Library due to a certain dark lord whose name must not be mentioned. Of course, when cooperation is not possible, that leaves only competition.