Imagine, you walk into Barnes and Noble on a search for a book that you have been anticipating for ages. Today is finally the day when it publishes, and you hope to be one of the lucky people who manage to snag the book from the fresh restocking of the bookstore shelves.
The store opens, and immediately, you rush to the shelves. You know exactly where you would find it, and within seconds, it is right in front of you. You happily pick up the copy and bring it to the register, but you notice a little sticker on the front cover.
Barnes and Noble, special edition. it reads. Extra story inside.
You had read something in the publisher's Twitter feed earlier in the day, mentioning that this book would have additional content depending on the store that you bought it from. But, wait. How could Barnes and Noble have a special edition? Didn't the publisher just tweet that Target was the one with the special edition?
As you scramble to pull out your phone and figure out the details, another tweet comes in. This time, it's about a Barnes and Noble special edition, with different content and extras than the Target special edition.
You want all of the extra content, but you don't have enough money to pay for both editions of the book, nor do you really need two copies of the same book on your shelves. What do you do?
Special editions of books seem to be taking the publishing world by storm. Exclusive stories, art, interviews and other content is all of the rage. There are more books with the "store exclusive" sticker on them than without!
Now, for avid book collectors, this might not be such a bad thing. After all, more special editions means more of the story for you. This means more information on the characters, the setting, the author, and the plot of the book too. The additional content also leaves the universe of the book open for expansion, meaning that more books and new information could be on the horizon.
Given you have the finances to purchase the books, and the fact that you wouldn't mind having additional copies of the same book on your shelves, it's a no-brainer to purchase special editions. You would be able to afford all of the extra content, and be a very happy reader.
The problem is, that this doesn't happen.
Most of the books that have store exclusives or bonus content tend to be Young Adult books. You might be thinking, well, great for you! But this isn't necessarily a good thing. Most people that fall within the "young adult" age group are still students in school (high school or college) and don't have the financial means to support buying books on top of normal living expenses and tuition.
I'm a teenager, and I barely have enough money to purchase a new hardcover of a book, even if it's a book that I'm anticipating and have been waiting on for months. Book prices in general have skyrocketed, from a hardcover costing anywhere from $20-29 dollars, and a paperback from $7-9.
I can't afford to spend $50 on two books in the same trip, and that's not even factoring in that I would be purchasing the same book! (For anyone not familiar with the book market, the hardcover edition releases first, and in a couple of months or even years, then the paperback edition releases. So, if I really want to read it when it is new and with my friends, I have no choice but to purchase the hardcover edition).
If the only "new" content that I am getting through a purchase of a second book is a 10 page additional story, I don't at all believe it is worth what I would have to pay for it. If I bought a second special edition, I would be paying $20-29 dollars for the new content, and that's not worth it to me.
Having multiple special editions doesn't entice me at all, not only because of the finances, but because I don't see a need to have multiples of a book that I may or may not like on my shelf.
I saw a lot of my blogging friends mention this on their Twitter accounts in the past week too. If you have enough "additional" content to make multiple special editions, wouldn't it be smarter to put all of the short stories, new art, etc. into it's own, separate book?
Not to mention, this would make international readers and those who don't have access to a specific store like a Target or a Barnes and Noble very happy too. Just read the amount of "Is this available for readers outside of the states?" tweets in the discussion here, for example.
I'd like to claim that a publisher would have even more sales if they bound up the "extra content" into it's own book. Technically, they could stagger the release of the extra content so that the series never really has a lull, and the excitement for it continues to build even when there is not a new full book release for a long time. Also, binding up the extra content would be cheaper for the reader if you released them in paperback, and it's common sense to know that one is more likely to make a sale for $9 than $29 or more for the same content.
So, while I may be willing to order a book through Barnes and Noble, Target, Amazon or any other bookstore, I won't be buying multiple special editions.
What do you think? Do you support special editions? Are there other circumstances I haven't considered? Tell me in the comments below!