Publishers enhance history books to lure readers

August, 31/2022 - 09:35
As the trend of book collecting becomes popular in Việt Nam, many publishing houses have decided to renew and enhance history books in order to satisfy readers’ interest in collecting these kinds of books.
VIETNAMESE HISTORY: A new edition of Việt Nam Sử Lược (Outline of History of Việt Nam) compiled and edited by educator and historian Trần Trọng Kim. — Photo courtesy of Đông A Publishing House

HCM CITY — As the trend of book collecting becomes popular in Việt Nam, many publishing houses have decided to renew and enhance history books in order to satisfy readers’ interest in collecting these kinds of books.

The Đông A Publishing House has released new editions of two great books on history of Việt Nam with beautiful covers and numerous illustrations.

They are Việt Nam Sử Lược (Outline of History of Việt Nam) and Việt Nam Văn Hóa Sử Cương (A Historical Outline of Vietnamese Culture).

Việt Nam Sử Lược was compiled and edited by educator and historian Trần Trọng Kim (1883-1953) and first published in 1920.

Being considered as the first history book in Vietnamese, it covers important historical events of the country from the Hồng Bàng Dynasty (2879 - 258 BC) to the early 20th century.

The book was reprinted in 1928, 1954 and 1971.

The new edition has 565 colour pages and a hard cover decorated with Vietnamese cultural characteristics.

The publisher selected and added more than 60 illustrated images and folk paintings in the books. The images are sourced from old pictures, drawings and newspapers kept in museums.

There are maps of Việt Nam published in 1928 and 1954 as well.

The publisher also gives a bonus of eight postcards and a map of Hà Nội in 1873 for the new edition.

CULTURAL HISTORY: Việt Nam Văn Hóa Sử Cương (A Historical Outline of Vietnamese Culture) by late researcher Đào Duy Anh has 108 illustrations. — Photo courtesy of Đông A Publishing House

Việt Nam Văn Hóa Sử Cương was compiled by the late educator Đào Duy Anh and first published in 1938, featuring an overview of Vietnamese life from the old days to the early 20th century. It portrays different fields, such as culture, tradition, society, economy, religion, literature, arts and science.

The 368-page book has more than 108 new illustrated images from old documents in museums and other sources such as L'Illustration, a weekly French newspaper published in Paris from 1843 to 1944, and the book L'Art Indochinois by Albert de Pouvourville.

The illustrations also feature a painting by the late painter Thang Trần Phềnh, one of the first students at the Indochine College of Fine Arts, and six photos by late French photographer and postcard publisher Pierre Dieulefils.

Đỗ Quốc Đạt Nhân, Đông A’s editor, said at the book introduction in HCM City that two books by Trần Trọng Kim and Đào Duy Anh contained a wide range of knowledge on the country’s history which would satisfy any history lovers and researchers.

Nhân added the publisher decided to renew and beautify the books to catch more readers’ attention. “When readers see a beautiful book, they feel curious and want to approach it.”

“We hope the reprints of the two books can spread love to history and reading among people, especially young people,” he said, adding that beautiful books could satisfy many book collectors as well.

Beautiful books

IMPERIAL HUẾ: A premium version of the book Hồi Ức Kinh Thành Huế Đầu Thế Kỷ XIX (Souvenirs of Huế Citadel in Early 19th Century) with a cover made from trúc chỉ. — Photo courtesy of Thái Hà Books

In 2020, Thái Hà Books Joint Stock Company released two different special editions of the book Hồi Ức Kinh Thành Huế Đầu Thế Kỷ XIX (Souvenirs of Huế Citadel in Early 19th Century), a Vietnamese version of Souvenirs de Hué written by Michel Đức Chaigneau (1803-1894).

Chaigneau, a son of a French official and a Huế woman, grew up in Huế during the reign of Emperor Gia Long and the first five years of the reign of Emperor Minh Mạng. His book features memoirs of the author about ancient Huế and life inside and outside the citadel walls.

The book is translated and annotated by translator Lê Đức Quang.

Apart from regular editions, Thái Hà Books introduced two premium versions of the book.

One has a cover made from trúc chỉ (a kind of paper made from bamboo) and lacquer which was designed by artist Phan Hải Bằng with the effect of making the book brighten in the dark.

For this version, the company released only three copies. All profits from selling the books was given to the Huế Culture Foundation.

Another version has a cover made from lacquer, a traditional material using for paintings.

Although its price was up to VNĐ1.39 million (US$59.45), all seven books were sold out.

According to a representative of Thái Hà Books, the company will continue to release both premium and regular versions of cultural and history books to spread love for reading among people as well as serve book collectors. — VNS

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