East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Cheap without cheapening would be nice…

1017348610-500x500… and as I am on the subject of doing research for my new story, I think I’ll plug another fine book.

The Shambhala Guide to Taoism*, by Eva Wong, is a wonderful one-stop resource on the history and structure of Taoist thinking. Miss Wong’s guide is a perfect reference to keep handy as I write.

This, in its Italian edition, was the suggested “textbook” for my course, in the days of old, together with Cleary’s Vitality, Energy, Spirit: The Taoist Sourcebook*.

Now, I used to suggest this book because it’s complete, clear and, in its Italian edition, it was rather cheap (less than ten bucks) – perfect for my students.
On the other hand, as I found out while writing this short post (but as I had been suspecting for quite a while), the original edition features about fifty sketches and tables, while the Italian edition only has fourteen.
The quality of the paper is also dismal for the Italian book – but that’s sort of ok.
I can take the cheap paper, but not the elimination of part of the contents as intended by the author – be it text, or figures.

61CJME6HxyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This is the sort of thing I find really irritating.
The same happened with Luce Boulnois Silk Road: Monks, Warriors and Merchants, a wonderful illustrated book I can’t recommend enough, that was published without illustrations and printed on cheap throwaway paper in Italy.
I understand the need to provide high-quality texts at low prices, and I fully support any viable strategy to bring more good books to those that can’t afford high-end editions (heck, I can’t afford them!)
But butchering the books to make them cheaper is not the way to go.

OK, end of pet peeve.
Sorry for the brief rant.

Looks like I’ll have to get me an English-language copy of Eva Wong’s Guide… I’m curious about the missing images.

* Hmmmm… that’s a lot of Shambhala Publishing books in one day… If it’s any consolation, they are not paying me to plug their excellent books.