"To read well, that is to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise that the customs of the day esteem." -Henry David Thoreau

Hello and welcome to the homepage of Vollrath Publishing. For now we only have one book, but we are working on others that will be available for you soon. Though in the future I may widen the field of what I publish to include living authors, for now I will start by publishing classic fiction and non-fiction, and I am proud to do so. There are a lot of good reasons to read classic literature. Aside from being an example of the Lindy Effect, a work of classic literature is an artifact made by the hands of another human being living at another time. Mary Shelley was born in 1797 and died in 1853. The first book that she wrote likely ranks among those efforts into which she put the most care in her whole life. In reading it, you gain something like a glimpse into the mind and soul of this woman who lived, mostly in London, 200 years ago, and maybe you will find that the two of you have some things in common. Read carefully, a novel can be something like a diary. Reading classic literature reminds us that we are not only of this generation. We did not suddenly materialize; we were all born of women who are themselves the next link in a lineage of people the records of whose lives stretch back millennia, people who have lived rich and deep, varied and interesting lives. We are part of a grand story that continues to unfold. This thought itself, which stands tall in the background of all classic literature, makes the chest swell with pride. With it comes the corollary, that as we inherit the greatness of our ancestors, we bear the responsibility for our progeny.

As speakers of English, we have an unusual benefit in that we can read literature that is up to about 500 years old in its original form. Many languages do not have this benefit for two reasons. Some languages do not have much literature that is 500 years old. English, thankfully, has plenty. Other languages have literature that is that old and older, but the modern form of that language has changed too much to allow the reader to read those older texts. For example, a modern Turk needs special training to read Turkish that is more than about 100 years old, which is commonly called Ottoman Turkish and is written using the Arabic alphabet. It is roughly comparable with learning a new language, though maybe a little easier. Anyone who has tried to read Chaucer in the original Middle English will have an idea of what is like for a Turk to read Ottoman Turkish, if Middle English were also written in an alphabet entirely foreign to the Latin alphabet we use today.

We are the heirs to a five-century literary legacy that we can still easily access, if we will but take ownership of it. In doing so, and in learning the language of our forebears, we expand our own vocabularies, and by expanding how we speak, we expand how we think. A new word that articulates perfectly an important or interesting thought is more valuable than a new watch. In George Orwell's 1984, Syme, who is a Newspeak specialist and a coworker of the protagonist Winston Smith, hopes to give the party further control over the minds of the people and to make revolt impossible by gradually and imperceptibly constricting the language that they use. Learning and remembering better and more precise words to describe a particular circumstance counters such encroachment. In the dystopia Aldous Huxley imagined and described in his great novel Brave New World, the road to that nightmare is cleared by "a campaign against the Past; by the closing of museums, the blowing up of historical monuments... by the suppression of all books published before" a particular date. In their place stand the vacuous hypnopedic slogans "history is bunk," "progress is lovely," and "everyone is happy now."

I value highly the medium of the physical printed book in particular, and not only for its aesthetics. Having one more printed book in your home affects how you think. Passing over the reams of the psychology research about how the objects in your environment affect your mind, having a physical book in your home encourages your wife or your husband, your girlfriend or your boyfriend, your children, and your friends, to read it themselves, and to read more in general. A book that you and someone else have both read is a guarantee of an impending good and memorable conversation.

Another benefit of printed books is that they help you to identify clearly the information that you truly value. The average person reads about 40 pages per hour. Let us assume that a typical book is about 300 pages. If you read for half an hour a day, covering 20 pages at a regular speed, you can finish a book in 15 days. The average American spends about two hours per day on social media, so replacing a quarter of that (or better still, all of it) with reading is certainly possible. Finishing a book in 15 days means two books per month, or 24 per year. If you kept up that reasonable pace, on average, for 50 years, by the end you would have read 1,200 books. In my experience that is enough to fill about 12 bookcases. The devoted knowledge-seeker could be proud of such a library. Now imagine that library: What books would you want in those bookcases? What is worth keeping in a physical copy? Frankenstein, obviously, but a city full of other books as well. The question implies the corollary: Of what would it not be worthwhile to keep a physical copy? A few examples leap to mind: An acquaintance's social media feed on a given day; a news article about an event that affects you negligibly or not at all; a viral video that was talked about by millions for 36 hours and then completely forgotten, at no loss to the forgetters. You would not keep a printed edition of nearly any inch of the miles of digital "content" that you consume. If such material is not even worth keeping on your shelf, why would you bother putting it in your mind, which is far more valuable than even the finest custom-built mahogany shelf? Your time and attention should be jealously guarded and your mind should be reserved exclusively for the material that is worthy of it. Knowing what exactly meets this standard is difficult, but removing from the list of candidates anything that you would not bother keeping in print is a good start and will save you a lot of time and energy. Given the hurricane of digital noise in which the modern person exists if he does not move deliberately out of it, this signal-seeking quality of the printed book makes it as sacred and powerful as it has ever been.

Printed books are immune to retroactive censorship in a way that the Internet is not. If you want to go back and change what is written on Wikipedia or on a particular web page, all you need is control of that web page. To change what is written in a book that I own, you have to come to my house and get it out of my hands. Considering the technology of the book generally, it becomes clear that indeed, sometimes less is more. One of the chief advantages of a book is what it does not do. You cannot check your email or browse social media on a printed book. You cannot read the news or play a game. A book has exactly one feature: It gives you direct and unencumbered access to some of the greatest minds who have ever lived, and all of the riches that come along with that access. Among those riches is how a book, like a thrown fishing line stretching out over a lake, extends the attention span, which the Internet and other modern technologies have shattered in most people.

The printed book is also largely secure against widespread technological collapse. It is unlikely that a geomagnetic storm like the Carrington Event of 1859 will knock out all electrical power. It is also unlikely that some other unforeseen cataclysm will obstruct long-term the Internet or technology generally. The trouble is that history is not at all linear, and unlikely events happen all the time. Our inherit normalcy bias impairs our ability to imagine that history and technological development will not advance linearly. It is statistically safe to think that such an event will not happen in your lifetime; all the same I like the fact that a printed book would carry on and continue to enrich the lives of future generations even if the lights were to suddenly go out. If a nuclear war destroyed every major city on earth – which today seems as likely as it has been at any point during my life – the survivors could rebuild civilization starting from the libraries upward. In this way, physical libraries are a kind of civilizational backstop, or insurance policy. 

All this is not to say that I only use printed books. I understand the value of ebooks and audiobooks and I enjoy both. I may even publish some of those someday. I say this only to emphasize the entirely practical benefits of the printed book format. The ebook is more portable, and the audiobook can be enjoyed without exerting the eyes. However the printed book remains the more durable and reliable option. By the measures I have described – as a sanctuary from distraction, as an intellectual stimulant in the home, as a standard for worthwhile knowledge, and for its immunity to censorship and technological collapse – the printed book stands supreme and alone.

It is with all these truly salubrious benefits in mind that I have prepared this edition of Frankenstein for you with great care, and it has been my pleasure to do so. I have worked in various jobs for close to 15 years, but the 11 years or so I have spent publishing have been the most meaningful to me, and I see it as the best path by which I can give value to the thoughtful and intelligent people who mean the most to me, and to those of you whom I have not yet had the delight of meeting.

Let me tell you a bit about the value I have worked to create for you. My intention was to make something that would be easy and enjoyable to read and that afterward you would be glad to keep on the shelf in your library. I have prepared in the edition 97 footnotes that define unusual vocabulary words and explain literary, historical, and geographic references. Many editions insert cumbersome and self-indulgent analysis that pulls you of the action and interrupts the flow of reading. By only explaining words and passages that may have otherwise required separate work to understand, these footnotes instead facilitate that flow.

Corporate publishing houses often take classic literature for granted. They use a public domain image on the cover, or worse, an image that betrays, like a fart in an elevator, how whoever was responsible for preparing the book had not even bothered to read it. For Frankenstein in particular, this is often a bargain-bin image of the monster from an old film adaptation of the book, or a castle that is entirely absent from the story. This misses the point entirely. I have commissioned an original cover for this edition that reflects what I think is the most significant part of the narrative and what is rarely reflected in the covers of other printings of the book.

Another value I am proud to bring you is an affordable price that includes shipping and a money back guarantee. If you are not happy with the book, simply mail it back to me and I will give you a full refund, no questions asked. I am partially able to give you this price because I am not working with Amazon. There are a lot of reasons to hate Amazon – in fact there is an entire Wikipedia page about it – but in more practical terms, listing products on Amazon means a lot of extra fees that make the price I want to give you impossible. My approach is, instead of paying Amazon to catch customers, to have you buy the book directly from me at this lower price and have you keep the extra money it would cost on Amazon, and we can cut Amazon out of the picture entirely.

So, if you would like a beautiful edition of Frankenstein at a good price, please order yourself a copy right now. My wife and I will put orders in the mail the day we receive them. If you like how all of this sounds and want to help a little more, you can subscribe to my email list, bookmark this page, and send the link to this website to a thoughtful friend who you think would benefit from it. If you would be kind enough to come back and write a review of the edition once you receive it then I would be grateful for that too, and it would help others find this high-quality edition as well. I plan to keep updating the blog and maybe speak with some guests in a podcast; we will see. So check back to this website for new content. This website is my home on the Internet and I hope that it will feel like a home for you also. Do not hesitate to reach out using the contact form under the “Contact Us” tab.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and take care.

Alex