Scarce=Special=Valuable: The Case for Limited Editions
When is a book worth more than a book? When it’s a limited edition, of course.
The folks at Taschen America recently published a limited run of 1,969 copies of MoonFire, a book by Norman Mailer commemorating the 1969 moon landing. Each of these copies, accompanied by a signed photograph of Buzz Aldrin, will sell for about $1,000. But even more exclusive are the 12 copies that will come bound with pieces of authentic moon rock; these copies are expected to fetch several hundred thousand dollars each.
Special editions, limited editions, product bundling, author inscriptions, and other enticements are all time-honoured ways for publishers to spur interest–and revenue–for a book.
Two more examples, this time from the world of fiction:
- When historical fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay released Ysabel in 2007, his publishers offered up for auction the first book off the press. First printings of first editions are prized by collectors. The additional sweetener of having the very first completed book off the press and an inscription from the author helped the copy earn a price of more than $550 CDN.
- JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, handwrote and illustrated seven copies of a book of fairy tales. The volumes were bound in leather and decorated with semi-precious stones. Six copies were given away to friends, while the last was auctioned off for charity. The hammer price? About $3.3 million USD.
More than a few people are predicting that, as ebooks rise in popularity, print books will become increasingly prized for their production and collector values. While few authors have the drawing power of JK Rowling — or the ability to garner millions for a single volume — there are plenty of opportunities for self-publishers to create extra value around their books.