Min Ron Nee – The Man behind The Book And Second Edition Details.

3 Jan


nfc capHong Kong, December 2012.

Sitting in the morning breeze by the pool bar here in Shatin, smoking my morning cigar and looking forward to another glorious day of new and old experiences in this most dynamic and vibrating city, I reflect on my impressions since I arrived here, only a week ago, but an eternity in my personal feelings about the man hosting me from the very moment I stepped out of the Lufthansa 747 at Chep La Kok airport.

He has hosted me with the outmost hospitality, having his chauffeur and personal assistant picking me up at the airport, booking my hotel both here in HK and in Guangzhou through his personal assistants, assisting me in obtaining my China visa, providing me with a personal limousine and driver/translator for my 3 day stay in Guangzhou and hosting me each and every night in style in his home, going even to the extent of preparing grilled pork knuckle for dinner, among other delicacies to make me feel at home having such German food. Incredible and most appreciated.

Of the more than 50 hours of conversations during my stay, a few of them revolved around his new book, the second edition of his now legendary and iconic Encyclopaedia.

The information I received and which will be posted on my blog after my return home, plus all the privileged insights into his herculean effort in producing this tome to the most exacting standards ( and, in the printing to new limits ) are invaluable and I am most grateful for his permission to pass it on to the many that have enquired and still do about the date it will be published and the contents it will have.

I can already state that it will break the publishing, photographic and content standards known and certainly the dimensions of density and weight we are accustomed in books.

It truly will be an exceptional book of reference to celebrate the 10-th anniversary of the publishing of the first edition that has become the book of reference in the cigar world.

But it is not just the gathering of this information that makes this visit again a very pleasurable one, as have been all my three other previous visits to Min Ron Nee – it is the man himself, his most human warmth, his personal integrity, his moral values, his generosity, his relaxed, outgoing, spontaneous and well spirited character that impress me the most.

Knowing that I had had surgery on an inflamed finger in my hand to remove an abscess just a few days before my flight to HK, he personally took it upon him to expertly disinfect and renew the dressing after removing the remaining inflamed fluid in the finger, changing the dressing daily and taking care I was properly and professionally cared for.

His care and advice for my Guangzhou visit led him to provide me with the very best driver/assistant at my service for the stay of my visit in line with his Cantonese traditional obligation not to let his guest have a single problem.

And yet, the man himself is the most modest, open, sincere human being in his concern for humanity and universal human rights.

A great philanthropist, while being humorous, open minded and most civilized in his approach to others and the attention he gives to people requesting his assistance, as many of my friends can attest to that have passed on enquiries to him through me.

It is certainly a unique privilege and I am honoured by his confidence and openness.

I have followed the progress of the book from afar, but here, he has invited me to personally see the results and I have been shown the drafts of the book, the collection of all the boxes used and catalogued and photographed for the project, shown the original 8×10 prints, given the details and yet there not a single air of him being in any way bragging or arrogantly displaying all this to impress me personally, or the cigar world in general, but to give me the details of an herculean task that has taken upon himself single-handedly with a few assistants, working on his, very scarce, spare time, converting one of his garages into a top-notch photographic studio and investing a small fortune into independently publish this book, as he did with the first edition.

Why you may wonder.

Why me, I wonder.

And, as in my previous visits and my communication with him, I realize that it is the fact that I’m an independent and free minded blogger, not in any way connected to the commercial aspects of the cigar world that has given me the access, the confidence and the shared spirit, as he is, in many ways a very singular and independently minded person, a lone wolf, a “nobody” as he will humbly describe himself, not prepared to accept any compromises neither to his outspoken views or values nor to his demanding quality standards to his staff, his friends or his projects.

As the day starts in Hong Kong, I reflect on all this and feel a deep gratitude and sense of personal accomplishment being right here, right now.

Might sound a bit personal and emotional – but that is my way of expressing my feelings.

Now, to the facts and details about the book – all quoted with permission of its author, Min Ron Nee and exclusive to this blog with the corresponding photographs taken by myself at MRN’s  home with his permission:

The second edition of his Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars is so far completed.

It is now in the correction phase to make it 100% correct.

It will contain 2,000 pages with about 4000 photographs. The precise number of photographs has not been counted by the author.

The reason for the delay has been that many photographic shots and trial printings are rejected to achieve maximum quality.

A minimum of two boxes of every cigar which can be possibly be bought with money which will appear in the book have been acquired for recording both reviews and photographs.

It will have half and full page photographs of each box, opened and closed.

The presentation method of the second edition will be very similar/exact to the first edition, making it very easy to use.

The book will be released for sure in 2013 to celebrate the 10-th anniversary of the first release of MRN’s Encyclopaedia.

It will be presented at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair (latest entry date in mid-January 2014 ) to compete in the 2014 quality awards for photography and printing.

Over 10,000 8×10 and uncounted 4 x 5 Fuji Provia 100 films were bought for the project, causing the Fuji Provia 100 8 x 10 films to become out of stock in the Hong Kong market – all quota for HK and a huge percentage for the Japanese market was acquired by MRN.

Each photographic shot costs HK$ 438 (3 shots of different exposures taken per shot, each Fuji 8 x 10 film costs HK $86, plus development of each 8 x 10 film costs HK $60.)

Total cost of the project has so far exceeded HK$ 20 (twenty) Million.

The cost includes buying all ancient documents and cigar boxes, with or without cigars, if available, at any cost asked for.

The cost does not include manual labour, many veteran people in the printing industry have volunteered to work for free.

There will be “no shortcuts” on anything.

The book will be testing the limits of existing printing techniques.

The paper used for the printing of the second edition had to be extra dense to prevent the ink from “bleeding” into the paper and tarnish the quality as it will be printed with 350 lines.

Resolution is so high that even using an ordinary magnifying glass it will not lose its quality.

All photographic effects have been achieved by special lighting techniques with absolutely no digital tricks or Photoshop being used at any time, which is always despised by MRN.

A perfect example for the special lighting technique can bee seen in the exclusive photographs of the 1492 humidor included in this post. You can see the “firework” effect on the lid of the humidor – this has been achieved by lighting. I have never seen such an effect before.

Only 2,000 copies of the book will be released. All of them are numbered and fitted with anti-counterfeit measures done by both the printer and by the author.

Of those only 1800 will be available to the public.

200 copies of the book will be presented to people who have contributed to the second edition.

Copy number 002 to number 100 will be autographed by the author and presented to contributors who will also receive a second free copy for reference/working purposes.

Copy number one will be kept by the author.

Weight of the book will be 30 lbs (5 volumes of 400 pages each weighing 6 lbs) plus a wooden presentation case of another 10 lbs and an external shipping case of yet another 10 lbs, making the total weight 50 lbs.

The intention of the book is to preserve information for posterity which will otherwise be lost. It is not a commercial project and monetary gain is not the motivation.

MRN has told me in person that he has not seriously thought of the final number of books printed, distribution channels and/or retail price. Getting the first 2000 books published in time for the Frankfurt Book Fair is his first priority for the moment.



28 Responses to “Min Ron Nee – The Man behind The Book And Second Edition Details.”

  1. Frank 03/01/2013 at 17:16 #

    Mind blowing. Thanks Nino and thanks MRN for sharing this info and pics with us. (Now I def. must have one :-))

  2. Erik Kievit 03/01/2013 at 17:24 #

    One word: A-MA-ZING. Glad you shared the details with us, which are all mind-blowing. I also don’t want to think about the retail price 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing (as always!)

  3. Stevieboy 03/01/2013 at 17:49 #

    OK then….better start saving!

    The book looks like it’ll be an absolute masterpiece

    Thanks for sharing the information Nino


  4. Hamlet 03/01/2013 at 17:58 #

    The amount of work and sweat MRN has put into this book is unimaginable. Just taking notes and trying to understand the intricacies of what he is doing and then putting those in written form would be difficult and you did it well.

    Where in the world of commercial printing could you find someone who has the financial resources, talent, knowledge, painstaking tenacity and time to create a book that will be a piece of art and collectible. You can not. Only a man who is driven by his sense of quality and passion and not by profit, could produce this one of a kind piece of cigar art.

    Nino, you have accurately detailed the story behind the creation of his book. A must have for serious cigar smokers.

    Thanks for updating us.

    • Nino Munoz 03/01/2013 at 19:19 #

      Hi Bill,

      thank you very much for the kind comments – coming from you, a singularly well placed person to comment as you have been there, been his guest and followed the progress, it is much appreciated !

      My very best regards as always / Nino

  5. David Chen 03/01/2013 at 18:11 #

    Nino…thanks for posting and sharing this info. Fantastic stuff. Loved MRN original book. Learned so much from it. Am eagerly awaiting MRN’s new book.

  6. Keith 03/01/2013 at 18:30 #

    Nino, thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Wow. Thanks very much for sharing Nino.

    Insane, but amazing! Over 2 1/2 million dollars spent by him so far on a personal project?!?! Wow. I’m so very glad though that this is being done – the fact that he has the passion and the resources to see this through is just an awesome investment, on HIS part, for the benefit of us ALL. Very cool.

    It’s funny though….as you were describing him….to some of us, it perhaps may seem like you’re also describing yourself. Sounds like MRN knows how to surround himself with great people!

    Kudos to you both, and thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Now….how can we reserve some signed copies???? LOL.

    • Nino Munoz 03/01/2013 at 19:23 #

      Ha, Keith,

      … get in line … :-))

      Best / Nino

  7. Arild 03/01/2013 at 19:32 #

    Nino, thank you for posting this personal story about your visit with Min Ron Nee, and thank you both for the fantastic information regarding the new MRN book.

    The work put into this one of a kind book is mindblowing!

    It is almost unbeliveable to think of the time, passion, money and immense knowledge MRN has put into the new book. I thought Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, a complete guide to 1368 grape varieties was impressing, but this new MRN book is on another planet. I doubt such a quality book with such incredible amount of photos and information has ever been made.

    And I don’t think it is out of the blue that you were chosen to see, take photos of and tell us about the book on your blog Nino, you are yourself a very respected man everywere, and your blog is personal and fantastic.

    Thank you for posting this information, and send the best wishes to the author in Hong Kong!

    • Nino Munoz 03/01/2013 at 19:51 #

      Arild !

      Thank you for the most kind words – I know you are an expert on champagne and cigars and can well appreciate the effort behind this project.

      Your wishes to the author will be passed on.

      My best regards to you and Ada !


  8. Erik(kiwiman911) 03/01/2013 at 22:13 #

    Thanks Nino for the great story/update on the holy grail of books for the cigar ”crazies”.

    It was great to read the story behind the man( MRN )so we could get a peek into the making and the how the book is created…because like all works of arts it is ”created” by an artist.

    I was lucky enough to by a brand new sealed copy of the book even in spanish I jump at the occasion of buying it in Cuba.

    Looking forward to getting an english copy and maybe meeting the man behind the book

    regards Erik

  9. Stan 04/01/2013 at 01:28 #

    Wow, just wow. What an awe-inspiring thought alone to see such mental energy and feat going into a meticulous project for historic ideals alone. Kudos and best wishes!

  10. Ray Hogge (Cubatobaco) 04/01/2013 at 05:10 #


    What a remarkable blog entry! Thank you for informing us on the recent news of the 2nd edition. Please pass my most humble regards on to the good Dr. as I miss his and your presence on the boards. So good to talk to you!


    PS – I plan on traveling your way one of these days. To have a cigar and good conversation with you would be wonderful. Take care, Nino!

  11. Ian 04/01/2013 at 15:19 #


    Fantastic writing and reporting from you!

    Absolutely delighted that MRN is taking no prisoners in pursuit of producing this work of art. I hope it wins in Frankfurt and I look forward to getting my mitts on a copy,



  12. Rob C (Your Hermano Australiano) 05/01/2013 at 07:59 #


    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience, emotions and feelings throughout your adventure. An absolute pleasure to read!
    I also thank MRN for allowing access – very generous. It is clear he is proud of his work… And he should be!

    Look forward to seeing you soon, mate.


  13. Stephen Reed (ozcuban) 06/01/2013 at 14:02 #

    Hi Nino

    I would once again like to thank you,for your continuing posts on the ongoing development of DR MRN’s book.

    As you know I have been following this book on both a professional and a personal level.

    I cannot begin to imagine the drive and personal effort involved in this project ,one question I do have ,do you know if the good Dr is using AM or FM screening the later (more commonly known as Stochastic ) as FM screening give much more professional results ,but is much harder to implement.

    I to like many others would love to own a copy of this book as well ,because I love books and if I was lucky enough to eventually own one,having no Kids I would gladly donate it to the State library ,so it can be preserved for future generations (after I am dead of course )

    I completely understand that MRN’S is not doing this for personal profit ,even though he has outlayed a considerable sum of money ,to me he seems to creating a Tome a precise and indomitable record for future generations ,before all this knowledge is lost forever.

    A MRN Opus if you will 🙂

    Some books are expensive and the higher the quality the more expensive they usually are ,this is generally not price gouging ,but quality comes at a price (good quality printing cost money)

    Like you also said ,and what I know only to well books go through many print runs ,and this would probably no exception

    I would also recommend that MRN also submits this for a “Benny” which is an international award for printing excellence named after Benjimin Franklin .

    Finally I dip my hat to MRN not only from a cigar lovers point of view ,but from a craftsmenship point of view ,printing world wide is facing a crisis from the digital threat which is cheaper ,but IMHO not a scratch on offset for quality ,there is no pride in pushing a button it all about Blood sweat and tears

    Thanking you once again Nino and a special thanks to MRN for caring enough to share this with world


    • Nino Munoz 06/01/2013 at 16:05 #

      Dear Steve,

      I very much appreciate you taking the time for such an extensive and personal comment on the project, as I know you have the professional interest in this and the necessary inside knowledge of printing techniques to be able to judge it from the printers perspective !

      As to your tecnical question ; I will forward it to the good doctor and you will receive the answer asap from me ( might take a few days, I’m off to Asia again in 2 days ).

      You’re quite right on the reasons for the creation of this book – it is to preserve cigar history and keep it alive, along with passing on the immense cigar and historical knowledge accumulated by MRN.

      He absolutely shares your opinion on the value of books for mankind and that is the reason for his challenging endeavour.

      Never heard of the “Benny” but will look it up – good suggestion. I will pass your comment to MRN.

      Thank you again, Steve – have a good Sunday evening down-under !


  14. Liam G 16/10/2013 at 03:59 #

    Hello Nino !

    Do you have new information about this amazing book?

    No possibility to pre-order one?

    Best regards,


    • Nino Munoz 21/10/2013 at 19:41 #

      Hi Liam,

      yes, I do, actually : I estimate that the price for the first 2.000 copies incl. the case will be around 3.000 € per copy, but that is just my estimate playing it by ear.

      As for pre-ordering : No, I don’t believe that might be possible.

      Best / Nino

      • Mats 26/11/2013 at 19:32 #

        I might be very wrong, but i think i remember news of the book(s) being moderately priced so that most aficionados would be able to afford it.

        I don’t think 3000 Euros is any way near close to being affordable for the average person.

        Thoughts or comments?


        • Nino Munoz 26/11/2013 at 19:42 #

          The price has not been set yet, so it’s too early to comment.

          But it all comes down to Choice – He is free to ask for whatever he feels is the right price for the efforts involved – and people are free to buy it or not.

          • Mats 03/12/2013 at 14:32 #

            Absolutely, i agree. it’s his prerogative to set the price.

            As an aficionado with a medium budget i’m still sad to hear the rumors about the price though.

            Judgning by the success and demand for the last edition i think the demand for this masterpiece is very high. it would be a shame if only a select few could afford it.

            On a different note, do you know if the schedule is the same? Release in Frankfurt 2014 and then on to the rest of the world?

          • Nino Munoz 04/12/2013 at 18:00 #


            believe me, if you can afford cigars you will be able to afford his book 🙂

            As to the schedule : Yes.

  15. Hank Douglas 28/02/2014 at 04:32 #

    I had Googled Books on Cuban Cigars and found your site. After reading your blog about your trip and visit in 2012 with MRN, I was quite excited about the 2nd Edition of “THE ENCYCLOPEDIA”. In 05, I was fortunate to buy 3 copies of the 1st edition. I gave one to a friend of mine for Christmas that year, opened one for my joy, and pleasure, and have one that is still in its original plastic wrap. I never thought nine years ago my $150/ea book would be the “go to” for Cuban Cigar lovers. I simply bought it because i wanted to learn more about the tobacco that I’ve grown to love for 16 years. Being in the US has its hardship on getting product, but i manage. MRN’s insight and love for the brand is what makes good things great.
    My hope and aspiration is only one thing…..may I have the pleasure, honor and privilege to own a 2nd edition when it’s finally released. Thank you for your writings and I look forward to reading more on what one of my greatest love’s is…..Habanos!!!
    Hank Douglas

    • Nino Munoz 12/03/2014 at 22:17 #

      Hi Hank,

      thank you for your comment and the kind words !

      Best regards


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