Back to the Future... (5th in the search for the ideal edition for an MDM)
Here's a test: Do you remember Milli Vanilli? ...or watching Paula Abdul's music videos on MTV? If not, then the Reader's Digest edition (circa 1989) might be your ideal MDM companion. You're young enough to have sharp eyesight, and too young to remember the stylistic excesses of the late twentieth century.
The Reader's Digest edition of M-D is found in numbers on eBay. It measures 6.125" x 9.25" x 1.5", with rigid boards, sewn binding, and an easily recognized spine and cover. There's no colophon or mention of "acid-free," but the paper is smooth, cream-colored, and feels sturdy. The library copy I examined showed no yellowing of the pages. Show-through is minimal.
This one is built to last, and it ain't no featherweight. It comes in at 32.6 ounces, about an ounce heavier than my Library of America 3-pack of Redburn, White-Jacket, and Moby-Dick.
The content is well-pared for marathoning. The required elements are there: table of contents, Extracts, Etymology, and Melville's footnotes. The only non-essentials are a five-page Afterword by author Thomas Fleming, and twelve illustrations by Joe Ciardiello, whose work you may well recognize. The color scheme (black, white, & faded turquoise) is carried through all the illustrations and chapter headings. For me, who equates The Breakfast Club with cinematic torture, the book's design feels uncomfortably retro (which is to say, it makes me feel old).
Also "uncomfortable" for me is the typeface. It's on the small side, and a bit too condensed, giving it an over-caffeinated, frenetic feel. I doubt I could live with this font for 25 hours, but that's me. (See the Typeface Tally post.) The margins and line-spacing are fine (the gutters could be wider).
If you're brawny of arm, keen of eye, and don't remember the days when ketchup was a vegetable, this could be the one for you.
NB: The text is not "Northwestern-Newberry compliant." [3/19/11]
The search continues...