Hello and welcome to the homepage of Vollrath Publishing. My name is Alex, I own and run this independent book-publishing company. Having worked in various jobs for close to 15 years, the 11 years I have spent in digital and book publishing have been the most meaningful to me. I see publishing as the best means 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.
I want to start this work by answering the need for four categories of books. Broadly speaking, those four categories are fiction and non-fiction by known and unknown writers from the past, while focusing on producing quality editions of classic works from the European literary canon. I have always thought that major publishing houses often take classic literature for granted. For the cover they use either a public domain image, or worse, an image that betrays how whoever was responsible for preparing the book had not even bothered to read it. In the case of Frankenstein, this is usually a bargain-bin image of the monster from an old film adaptation of the book, or an image of a mysterious castle, which is especially mysterious because there is no castle in Frankenstein. You will notice that for our edition, I have commissioned an original cover that reflects what I think is the most significant part of the story and is rarely reflected in the covers of other printings of the book. If you buy a copy of the book today and read it, I am sure you will get my meaning.
To briefly say a bit more about our edition – my guiding principle has been to make something that you would benefit from and take pleasure in reading and that afterward you would be proud to keep on the shelf in your library. I have prepared in the edition 97 footnotes that define some of the richer vocabulary words that Mary Shelley uses and some of her literary, historical, and geographic references. Many editions insert cumbersome and self-indulgent analysis that pulls you out of the action and interrupts the flow of reading. By only explaining words and passages that may have otherwise required separate work to understand, our edition instead eases and accelerates the reading.
As I said, alongside well-known works and writers, we will answer the need for quality editions of lesser-known works of fiction from the past by known writers, as well as books by writers whose names have largely been forgotten by history. For example, when people hear the name Mark Twain they think of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Few are aware that Twain wrote a historically accurate novel about Joan of Arc, and that he said "it is my very best book... it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing." Finally, alongside fiction we will publish time-tested non-fiction, by writers known and unknown, that will benefit readers today. As an example, a book that certainly warrants a quality edition in this area is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, written by Charles MacKay and published in 1841.
Some of the books that have affected my thinking the most have been by writers centuries or millennia old of whom I had never heard before reading them, or of whom I had heard only by an obscure chance that I could have easily missed. I am haunted by how many similar chances have without doubt blown past me without my ever having been aware of them, and by the certainty that there are writers, thinkers, and inquirers from the past from whose knowledge and industry we could benefit but whose names have fallen out of the public or even intellectual consciousness. I am confident that the work to discover and distribute such cultural, historical, literary, artistic, and scientific wealth will be well worth it.
A good book can turn any ordinary day into a moment of enlightenment, illumination, and discovery, in which you encounter a new and interesting thought or fact or connect two previously unconnected thoughts or facts, and a shaft of light breaks in on the dark caverns of our ignorance. Such connections and discoveries are among the best things that life offers, and I want the work of Vollrath Publishing to assist you in making them.
Of course, not everyone is interested in, familiar with, patient enough for, or indeed capable of such discovery. I want to supply and equip the intellectual expeditions of those thinkers and explorers who value our history, and the books of our history, who are interested in literature but also history, science, philosophy, art, and geography, who have knowledge of these subjects and want to expand that knowledge. The challenge of reading and contemplating heavy books excites, rather than intimidates them. They like to discuss these books with others, and investigate serious questions and challenging ideas. They have a personal library, whether big or small, measured in volumes, shelves, or rooms, and they want to expand it. They are probably disappointed with aspects of what is commonly called "popular culture" – maybe even a little disgusted. They may tend to find social media vapid, or at least see the harm it causes. These are the people I want to serve.
If any of that sounds familiar, please order yourself a copy of this beautiful edition of Frankenstein for your library right now. My wife and I will put orders in the mail either the day we receive them or the next day at the latest. If you want to help a little more, you can subscribe to our 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 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 and help us advance toward bigger and better projects. Please do not hesitate to reach out using the contact form under the “Contact Us” tab at the top right of the page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and take care.