On Collector’s Editions, a Consumer Point of View

Brian Keene recently announced “Is There a Demon in You” anthology with three other writers. The book is currently only available as a collector’s edition. There was a comment on the price of the book, and Keene responded to it here.

Currently the title (for sale here) is $50 for the book. Some time down the road, a regular edition will come out. The comment that Keene is replying to is about the cost of the book.

But that isn’t the issue. Not really. See limited edition collector books SHOULD be expensive. They are, by nature, LIMITED and COLLECTOR versions of the novel. There is craftsmanship in the book cover, the printing. They are signed. They look great on a bookshelf.

I have several collector editions of Keene’s and others’ work. And despite paying upwards of $150 for a book, I’ve never read them. Why? Simple, why the fuck would I risk damaging a $150 book to read it? I didn’t buy it as a book, I bought it as a collector’s item.

Which goes back to the real issue. Keene says “respect those customers (the ones who want to buy these collector editions), and don’t complain about the price.” The real issue isn’t that the collector’s edition is expensive. The issue is that there is no other option. These people, some would refer to them as ‘readers’ or ‘fans’, want to read Keene’s work. They want to read the novel, and from a basic level, they want to give Keene money. They aren’t complaining about the price of the collector’s edition. They are complaining that there are no other options.

I think the idea is like this: release a collector’s edition of the book; wait a few years (yes years in this case); release a regular version of the book. Maybe the thought is that no one will buy the collector’s edition if they can buy a mass market. Maybe the thought is that the collector’s edition has no value if you can buy a mass market.

I say both thoughts are wrong.

People who buy collector’s editions, buy collector’s editions. People who don’t, don’t. We see the same thing in “normal” publishing all the time. “When does this book come out in paperback?” We were asked that all the time at the store. The publishers seem to believe that no one will buy the hardcover if the mass market is also available, and from my experience, that simply isn’t true.

The bad part is the time. Those fans who wanted that book are now moving on to read something else. When that book comes out? Hopefully they remember they want it. Because right now, they are lost sales, each and every one.

In fact, I’d argue that the collector’s edition would sell better AFTER the book has been released to the masses. Then we have read it. We’ve talked about it. We’ve decided if we like it. Then we would be more likely to drop $50, $75, maybe more on a nice signed limited edition of the book.

Again this is from my point of view, as a customer. Maybe there is an inside the biz, inside the game, point of view that makes these decisions sound more logical. But from here, I just scratch my head.

(For the record, I believe this particular anthology to be well worth the money for this edition.)

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