The Sunday Salon: Out-of-Print and Current US Editions of The Lord of the Rings

Welcome to my Comprehensive (To the Best of My Knowledge) List of Out-of-Print and Current US Editions of The Lord of the Rings (and Selected Editions of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion)! The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are only included when they are available in a box set with the novel. I hope this list is useful to you; if you have any questions, corrections, or comments, please feel free to let me know in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do to help. If you’re interested in the British publication history, TolkienBooks.Net has got you covered. Mike’s Tolkien Resources and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database are my main resources for the list and well worth checking out on their own merits.

Houghton Mifflin First Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 1955, Hardcover
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 1955, Hardcover
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 1955, Hardcover

Ace Books Pirated Editions

The Fellowship of the Ring, Ace Books, 1965, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ace Books, 1965, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ace Books, 1965, Paperback

Ballantine Books First Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1965, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1965, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1965, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Ballantine Special Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1970, Trade paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1970, Trade paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1970, Trade paperback
(Available as box set)

Ballantine Second Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1973, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1973, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1973, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1973, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 1978 Trade Paperback

The Hobbit, Houghton Mifflin, 1978, Trade Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 1978, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 1978, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 1978, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin Silver Anniversary Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, 1981, Hardcover
The Two Towers, 1981, Hardcover
The Return of the King, 1981, Hardcover
(Available as box set)

Ballantine Third Edition:

The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1981-84, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1981-84, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1981-84, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1981-84, Paperback
The Silmarillion, Ballantine Books, 1981-84, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Easton Press Tolkien Classics Collection

The Hobbit, Easton Press, 1984, Hardcover
The Fellowship of the Ring, Easton Press, 1984, Hardcover
The Two Towers, Easton Press, 1984, Hardcover
The Return of the King, Easton Press, 1984, Hardcover
The Silmarillion, Easton Press, 1984, Hardcover

Ballantine Fourth Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1985-88, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1985-88, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1985-88, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1985-88, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 1987 Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 1987, Hardcover
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 1987, Hardcover
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 1987, Hardcover
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin One Volume Deluxe Hardcover

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 1987, Hardcover

Notes: Originally published in 1974, this edition was revised in 1987 as a 50th Anniversary edition. There’s also apparently a green collectors’ edition version kicking around, according to one commentator. If you have any information, let me know!

Houghton Mifflin 1988 Edition

The Hobbit, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 1988, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Ballantine Fifth Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Ballantine Sixth Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 1988, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin One Volume Centenary Edition

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 1991, Hardcover

Science Fiction Book Club Special Edition

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 1998, Hardcover

Ballantine/Del Rey Seventh Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine/Del Rey, 1999, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine/Del Rey, 1999, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine/Del Rey, 1999, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine/Del Rey, 1999, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Notes: An impressive amount of Tolkien’s other works were released in a similar (though not identical) style, making this, I think, an ideal paperback edition for the novels and the other works. My favorite paperback style, hands down.

Houghton Mifflin 1999 One Volume Trade Paperback

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Trade Paperback

Houghton Mifflin Millennium Edition Boxed Set

The Ring Sets Out, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Hardcover
The Ring Goes South, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Hardcover
The Treason at Isengard, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Hardcover
The Ring Goes East, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Hardcover
The War of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Hardcover
The End of the Third Age, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Hardcover

Notes: Looks great, right? And Tolkien preferred this method of publication. But the quality of this edition is known to be poor, especially considering the price. The British version of this set is still currently published.

Houghton Mifflin Trade Paperback 1999 Edition

The Hobbit, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Trade Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Trade Paperback
The Silmarillion, Houghton Mifflin, 1999, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Ballantine/Del Rey Eighth Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2001, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2001, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2001, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2001, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 2001 Trade Paperback

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 2001, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 2001, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 2001, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 2001 One Volume Trade Paperback

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2001, Trade Paperback

Houghton Mifflin 2001 Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 2001, Hardcover
The Two Towers, Ballantine Books, 2001, Hardcover
The Return of the King, Ballantine Books, 2001, Hardcover
(Available as box set)

Ballantine/Del Rey Ninth Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2002, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2002, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2002, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2002, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 2002 Trade Paperback

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 2002 One Volume Trade Paperback

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Trade Paperback

Houghton Mifflin 2002 Alan Lee Centenary Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Hardcover
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Hardcover
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 2002, Hardcover
(Available as box set)

Ballantine/Del Rey Tenth Edition

The Hobbit, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2003, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2003, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2003, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2003, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin 2003 One Volume Hardcover

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, Hardcover

Houghton Mifflin 2003 One Volume Gift Set Hardcover

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, Hardcover

Houghton Mifflin 2003 One Volume Paperback

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, Paperback

Houghton Mifflin 2003 Trade Paperback

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 2003, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Houghton Mifflin Deluxe 2004 50th Anniversary One Volume Hardcover

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2004, Hardcover

Science Fiction Book Club 50th Anniversary Edition

sfbclotr50

The Lord of the Rings, Science Fiction Book Club, 2004?, Hardcover

Notes: This edition is both rare and bare documented. According to eagle-eyed commenter Jeff, “I was a member of the SFBC for 3 years during college, and I received an offer in their mail to order this limited version of the book. I think I paid around $70-$80 for it, and I had ordered 2, but only received one. Must have been very limited.” An e-mail to the Science Fiction Book Club was similarly inconclusive. If you have any more information on this edition, please let me know!

Houghton Mifflin 2005 One Volume Trade Paperback

The Lord of the Rings, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, Trade Paperback

Houghton Mifflin 2005 Trade Paperback

The Fellowship of the Ring, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Ballantine/Del Rey Eleventh Edition

The Fellowship of the Ring, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2007, Paperback
The Two Towers, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2007, Paperback
The Return of the King, Ballantine/Del Rey, 2007, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Del Rey Twelfth Edition

lotr2012delrey

The Hobbit, Del Rey, 2012, Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Del Rey, 2012, Paperback
The Two Towers, Del Rey, 2012, Paperback
The Return of the King, Del Rey, 2012, Paperback
(Available as box set)

Notes: The corresponding UK edition is the same, but lacks the “continuing the story of The Hobbit” text on the cover.

Mariner Books 2012 One Volume Trade Paperback

lotr2012omnibus

The Lord of the Rings, Mariner Books, 2012, Trade Paperback

Mariner Books 2012 Trade Paperback

lotr2012edition

The Hobbit, Mariner Books, 2012, Trade Paperback
The Fellowship of the Ring, Mariner Books, 2012, Trade Paperback
The Two Towers, Mariner Books, 2012, Trade Paperback
The Return of the King, Mariner Books, 2012, Trade Paperback
(Available as box set)

Notice anything missing or incorrectly labeled? Let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in valuing your editions, please feel free to comment below or shoot me an e-mail (my e-mail is listed on my About page); I will respond.

48 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Out-of-Print and Current US Editions of The Lord of the Rings

  1. I like those 1981 hardcovers! The first editions are really beautiful too, and if I ever feel financially comfortable splashing out a grand on first editions of Tolkien, I will know I have Arrived. :p My copies are reissues, I guess, of the 1987 or 1988 editions, the illustrations by Alan whatshisface. I’m fond of them.

    • Aren’t they gorgeous? And yeah, it’s definitely a dream.

      Alan Lee! His work is so lovely. The early British editions are lovely, although I think the US movie tie-in versions are much better; I just got the 2001 Houghton Mifflin one volume trade paperback off eBay and I can’t wait—the logo is gorgeous. (Not to mention it’s the very edition I first read The Lord of the Rings on.)

  2. Oh, these are lovely! What a useful list, not to mention a great way to compare the covers! I use the 1999 trade paperbacks as reading copies, and I have the 1974 red boxed single volume for “good.” I also have a similar green boxed book of The Hobbit, which I don’t see here.

    Too bad the 1999 boxed set is poor quality. I really like that one!

  3. In addition to the 1991 Houghton Mifflin One Volume Centenary Edition, HM also put out a three volume centenary set with some great Alan Lee covers. TFOTR has his Rivendell painting, TTT has his Shelob painting and TROTK has the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. They also have silver, not gold trim.

  4. nice list, howeve you’re missing a copy I have as my “display” copy. it’s the science fiction book club 50th anniversary leather-bound hardcover with gold writing, could provide you with a picture if need be

    • A picture would be great! I found a list of titles published under that particular label—The Science Fiction Book Club 50th Anniversary—but I haven’t seen anything that lists The Lord of the Rings among them, so I’d love to see it!

      • I realize I’m chiming in a year late here, but I also have this SFBC 50th anniversary leatherbound edition, and am trying to value it. I can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere, so I have not basis for assigning a value (not that I’m going to sell it, I’m just inventorying my collection). Did you ever get your photo of it? I’d be happy to send one, and I’d love to hear from anyone who can help me come up with a dollar amount for the volume.

    • 1965 Ballentine paperback 3 set . . . worth?

      any idea what these are worth? i have them too, but mine is a 3 set and am only seeing 4 set so far.

      • I combined your comment since you commented twice in extremely short succession.

        As for the worth of them, it depends on their condition. I’ve seen individual copies sell for ten dollars a pop, so I’d gauge about thirty for the whole bunch. If they’re in particularly good condition, I recommend talking to an antiquarian bookseller (although these might be too young!) or checking eBay for going prices, which range from $8 to $30 per book.

    • Well, I LOVE ALL of Them..I have a 1973 paperback Ballantine of “The Hobbit”..My auntie gave me when I turned 18..many years ago..I have a hard cover edition “The Hobbit or There and Back Again” that contains all revisions and corrections that have been made since the original publication and conforms in every respect to that of the British Fourth Edition published by George Allen & Unwin 1978. Copyright Restored 1996 by the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and is Illustrated by the Author as well. I ran across your web page in my search. I was trying to find out what both of my copies were worth..(Just for my own piece of mind) Anyways..found your page very helpful..So..Thank you for taking the time to put it together. If you have any suggestions on a site that I could find out the value?? That would be Great. I have the Extended Directors DVD Box set of the Lord of the Rings and absolutely enjoy watching them..My children have grown up on Them & many, many, movie marathons (usually a Saturday,,ALL day) LOL..Have a Blessed Day..Thanks Again

      • Personally, to find book value, I tend to use eBay to get an idea of a price range. It depends on the age of the book, its rarity (hold onto your Hobbit; the movie tie-ins will flood the market soon!), and the condition it’s in. eBay listings usually have photos, so it’s easy to identify each edition and their condition.

        You’re quite welcome! I’m so glad this page was useful.

  5. The red hardcover one above (1987) was deemed a “collectors’ edition” (50th year anniversary I think) and had a very nice red/black foldout map with lots of detail (I think his son CT did this one). The hardcover and the “housing” had the same red, leatherlike surface. Also released at the same time was a “green” collectors’ edition that was the same height. Just looked on ebay and there was only one of the red cover, but it did not have the book housing.

    • That’s a beautiful edition; I especially like how The Silmarillion fits in so nicely, probably because my first edition was a film hardcover tie-in, so there was no pretty or matching The Hobbit or The Silmarillion for me!

  6. We have the Ballantine Second Edition 1973, with all 4 book is terrific shape. I’d like to know what the value might be on these? Anyone have a clue? Thanks.

    • I did a little research for you; that set, with or without the gold box it comes in, goes for about ten to twenty dollars on eBay in that condition. The older American paperbacks aren’t wildly valuable, unfortunately—even the Ballantine Special Edition tops out around twenty to thirty dollars, and that’s with the box set. If you’re interested in selling, talk to your local used bookstore about it; you’ll probably get better money online. I hope that helps!

      • Hey, I appreciate it a ton. You’re the best. I looked all over and couldn’t find anything on it, which meant to me that it would be more rare. Of course, quite the contrary. It’s really too bad, because we do have the complete set, gold box in perfect condition and all three books of the trilogy have not even been touched (ie: read), only the hobiit with a slight crinkle from bend. It’s a nice set and when I saw 1973 I thought (40 year old books…wow!)

        Here’s my reason why I went wow! my 11 year old son wanted to read the books. He is ENAMORED with the movies and they are the soundtrack of his life. When he discovered we had these, of course he wanted to read right away. I paused because they’re very old.

        Telling me they are worth 20 bucks is GREAT news because I can let him read with reckless abandon, and if something happens…by chance…who cares. Books are meant to be read. Masterpiece collectors items are meant to be admired.

    • Hello Peter,

      I had the original set back in 1973 but they became damaged over the years and I got rid of them.

      I just purchased a complete set including the Hobbit for $76 on ebay. Bidding was intense to the final second!

      Regards,
      Mark

  7. I found this page while looking for recommendations for a sturdy paperbook editions of the books, ideally with the 50th anniversary edition corrections. Thanks for putting this together!

    My own experience with different editions: I grew up with the 1973 Ballantine paperbacks. As that was the period of my life I read them the most, I can definitely say they are hardy. I really like the cover artwork too.

    I got the Houghton Mifflin 1988 paperback boxed set as a gift later, and the binding is terrible quality. The Fellowship started to come apart during the first reading, and had split in two by the second; the others are following suit. I should note that the boxed set books have the same borders and titles as shown here, but without the artwork: in the center, there’s just a pattern of diagonal white lines with black shading.

    I’m a little suspicious of HM’s edition quality in general as a result, though I do have the 1999 trade paper of the Silmarillion, and it is a nice, solid edition. I just bought the HM 2005 trade paperback of Return of the King, and am hoping it turns out the same.

    • Thanks so much for letting us know! I’ve noticed that the 1973 Ballantine paperbacks are particularly hardy as well—I see a lot of them in thrift stores and on eBay in a variety of conditions, but all readable.

      Huh! I’ll have to go researching for a photo of those box set covers, unless you would be so kind as to provide one.

      I think it will—the new trades look well put together, although you never know.

  8. A wonderful illustrative presentation of ‘all’ of the American published editions of the Lord of the Rings. But, I’m confused. The red one volume Deluxe Hardcover edition Houghton Mifflin, was originally published in 1974 and then I gather re-released in 1987 as a 50th edition? How could this be? 1987 – 1954 = 33 years? The year 2004 would be 50 years since its first publication.
    Then 1954 + 100 = 2054, a volume published in that year would be a centenary edition, the two editions calling themselves ‘centenary’ seem a bit premature, or am I not understanding the meaning of the words?

  9. I have a 1978 Houghton Mifflin boxed hardcover set of Lord of the Rings (Hobbit not included with the set) not mentioned here. What’s up?

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  11. Thank you for posting this! I’ve had a vague childhood memory of reading my Aunt’s copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I’ve been searching for that exact copy based on my recollection of the cover. I searched years ago and on a whim thought I’d see if there was any new info on the net. Thanks to you I now know it’s the Ballantine Special Edition set from 1970!

  12. Re: Houghton Mifflin One Volume Deluxe Hardcover (The 12th photo)
    I have that exact volume copyright 1965 along with a green Hobbit copyright 1966. Received them as a gift in 1980.

  13. Surprisingly the finest copy I own of LotR is Houghton Mifflin Deluxe 2004 50th Anniversary One Volume Hardcover. Siurprisingly because usually american book art is repugnant to me over the more staid british versions (example the first eds of LotR and the Robert jordan books over their UK counterparts) yet this version is just beautiful. One that any reverend would be proud to have laid open on it’s plinth for him to read from to his congregation, if it was a bible.

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  15. I am crossing my fingers that you are still available for your invaluable insight regarding these amazing books…considering the last post was Dec, 2012. I currently own and have held onto a “Signature Set” Houghton Mifflin 1978 edition (All 4 books)..in anticipation of the movie “The Hobbit” coming out. None of them are read and in quite good condition…is it possible to get your recommendation on what their value could be? I saw them on ebay once for around $600….but I really have nothing to gauge the price from. Looking forward to hearing from you!

    • I’m so glad you reached out despite the time-stamp; I’ll add a note to the post indicating that I’m always happy to value.

      Glancing on eBay, it looks like your set—if you still have the box—is currently going for around forty to sixty dollars. There is a major outlying auction listing it for $150, but I think that seller is a little too ambitious! These are all with the red boxes; the green box listed in my post is not on eBay at the moment, so it be worth a little more.

    • It would be amazing!

      Box sets of anything are my weakness. I almost picked up a few Star Trek movies on VHS from a thrift store because they were part of a box set that did a single image across their sides.

  16. hy i have the lord of the rings 1,2 & 3 in 1 hard back book and it was published in 1978 by book club associates by arangement with george allen & erwin ltd. I am havin trouble finding the value of the book as i cant fint this edition anywere else and i was wondering if you could please help me. thanks

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