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Unburnable Copy of The Handmaid’s Tale Sells for $130,000

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An unburnable copy of The Handmaid’s Tale has been sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $130,000. The often banned book by Margaret Atwood was chosen by Penguin Random House to be made unburnable as a way to protest recent book bans across the United States and the world. The publishing company hopes it will “stand as a powerful symbol against censorship” and have named it “The Unburnable Book.”

The special edition of the book has a cinefoil dust jacket, white heat shield foil pages, fire resistant ink, and is held together with nickel wire and high temperature adhesive. Its design comes as a result of a collaboration between Atwood, PEN America, the Rethink Creative Agency, and The Gas Company, Inc.

A video was made of Atwood taking a flamethrower to demonstrate the book’s resistance to flames. The author hopes the unburnable copy of The Handmaid’s Tale “raises awareness and leads to reasoned discussion.”

The proceeds from the sale will be given to PEN America to aid the organization’s mission of protecting free speech worldwide.

CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, shared her thoughts on the book, saying “In the face of a determined effort to censor and silence, this unburnable book is an emblem of our collective resolve to protect books, stories and ideas from those who fear and revile them. We are thankful to be able to deploy the proceeds of this auction to fortify this unprecedented fight for books.”

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.

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