To recap: Everyman's Library began in 1906 when bookbinder/publisher Joseph Malaby Dent wanted to make great books available to the general public. And these were nice books--the kind with sturdy bindings and ribbon markers. They were also affordable--"For a few shillings," says Dent, "the reader may have a whole bookshelf of the immortals; for five pounds . . . a man may be intellectually rich for life."
Founder Dent died in 1926, but his library thrived. In 1990, British publisher David Campbell acquired hardcover rights to Everyman's Library and told his friend Sonny Mehta, president of Alfred A. Knopf, that he wanted an American partner. So Random House UK and Knopf picked it up. Since then they have done 500 titles and sold 12 million books.
They have a set called "Everyman Essentials" that's sold by Amazon.com . . . 100 books that help people build an instant library of classics. (Oh, I'm coveting!) Check out the complete list on Amazon.
Best of all, the books are NOT those fancy-schmantzy volumes that sell for hundreds of dollars (I know, those are beautiful. But they're just not practical.) Everyman's books are competitively priced. The line now includes contemporary classics by authors such as Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy. And quality? From the Amazon description: Everyman's Library continues to maintain its original commitment to publishing the most significant world literature in editions that reflect a tradition of fine bookmaking. Everyman's Library pursues the highest standards, utilizing modern prepress, printing, and binding technologies to produce classically designed books printed on acid-free natural-cream-colored text paper and including Smyth-sewn, signatures, full-cloth cases with two-color case stamping, decorative endpapers, silk ribbon markers, and European-style half-round spines.
So . . . when you feel the need for a book, check out the Everyman's Library. Or Everyman's Anything. I've a hunch you can't go wrong.