Friday, April 6, 2012

My Stephen King Collection

I thought, here's a fun thing to do: toss a series of photos onto my blog showing off my King collection, along with some select commentary.  Is this the work of an egomaniac?

Probably, but if you can't get away with that on a blog, where can you get away with it?

Let's get to it!

Here's the beginning, and right off the bat you'll probably notice that I've arranged the books chronologically.  Why chronologically, as opposed to alphabetically?  Good question.  I'm not sure I've got a good answer, but here's an attempt: a big part of what I seem to enjoy about Stephen King's work is that it functions well as a single, long story.  I don't mean this in terms of the various crossovers between the books -- although that's an excellent secondary reason -- but more in the sense that King's career itself is a bit like a story to me.  As such, that's how I think of it: in terms of the order in which it happened.

A couple of other notes about this first picture:
  • You will notice, as we proceed, that I have multiple copies of many of the books.  Is this because I am obsessive and want to eventually have a copy of every edition?  Not really, no.  That idea appeals to me in a theoretical sense, but it isn't something I'd spend money to realize.  The primary reason for the multiple copies is simply so that, when I get ready to write about each book, I can have a copy to highlight and take notes in.  Then there are other editions (such as the paperback edition of Firestarter) that I've bought because it has an introduction or afterword by King, and other editions (such as the paperbacks of The Stand and Night Shift) that I bought just because I love the cover art.
  • If you've looked closely enough to notice the hardback of Dark Forces, you might possibly be wondering what that is and why it is there.  If so, here's the answer: Dark Forces is the anthology in which "The Mist" first appeared, and "The Mist" is so substantial a work that I felt like it belonged to be placed amongst King's books.  (Most of the anthologies I've got that include King works are shelved elsewhere, but there are a few exceptions like this one that I've integrated -- chronologically, of course -- with the main King bibliography.)

This one is fairly self-explanatory, although you might be wondering what the big book called simply Stephen King is.  That's an omnibus edition from the '80s consisting of The Shining, 'Salem's Lot, Night Shift, and Carrie, presented in that order.  And, yes, that does offend my chronologically-inclined sensibilities a bit.

You will also notice the paperback version of The Running Man.  Sad to say, it's not an original Bachman; it's a tie-in edition from around the time the Schwarzenegger movie was released.  One day, though, I hope to buy original paperbacks of the first four Bachman novels.  Those are quite high on my "holy grails" list.

Earlier, I indicated that I have somewhat specific reasons for buying multiple editions, when I buy them.  You'll notice there are three versions of The Bachman Books.  In the case of that omnibus, I'm going to buy every copy of it I find, for the simple reason that it is the only way to have a copy of the early novel Rage.  King withdrew The Bachman Books and Rage from print as a response to school shootings which seemed to be partially inspired by the novel, so the only way to find a copy is to track down a used one.  As time goes by, this will become increasingly difficult to do, so I'd like to have a few copies on hand that I could give away, if -- and this seems likely -- I encounter people down the line who are unable to find copies for themselves.

Here's the thing about my "bookshelf": it consists of twelve pieces of plywood, stacked into six layers with the layers separated by concrete blocks.  Yes, I am aware that is trashy and redneck-y.  I live in Alabama, so I'm okay with that.

In "constructing" the "shelves," I made them fairly tall so that they could accommodate books of various heights.  However, I couldn't make them too tall, or I'd've run into my ceiling.  Because of that, I've got a small number of King-related books that are too tall to fit anywhere other than on the top shelf (which has nothing but ceiling over it).  You'll see those at the end of that top shelf, looking glum and out-of-place.  The red one is the magnificent art book Knowing Darkness, and it is one of my prize possessions.  See the tape on the bottom of the slipcase?  That's there because the book is so heavy that when I took it out of the box, it tore right through the bottom of the slipcase.  This did not please me; however, I bought the book so that I could look at it, not as a collectible, so I just shrugged, snarked about it a bit on Amazon, and said good 'nough.

The book on the end is the first Dark Tower omnibus from Marvel Comics.  It's awfully heavy, too, but it didn't tear through the slipcase.

Just sayin'.

I'm a bit torn as to whether Mid-Life Confidential belongs there, or if it would be more properly placed in the anthologies.  Some might say something similar about Feast of Fear (as well as Bare Bones, shown at the beginning of the previous photo), that they might belong in the books-about-King section.  I tend to disagree; those excellent books consist of interviews with King, so I think of them as having been written by King.

Lookit that box set of the original Green Mile paperbacks!  Love those.

Legends, as you may know, is the anthology in which "The Little Sisters of Eluria" first appeared.  Like Dark Forces and "The Mist," I felt this was a substantial enough tale to place amongst the other books in the main bibliography.

Speaking of prize possessions, by the way, have a look at that purple volume.  Yes, you guessed it, that's The Plant: Zenith Rising, which I printed out -- back-to-front! -- and then took to the local library bindery, where they created a hardback for me for about $15.  I only wish I'd had 'em do five or six copies.

Time to show my crazy a bit.

There you'll see the Dark Tower section.  The trade paperbacks of books I-IV are elsewhere, placed in their chronological context, but here, we've reached the chronological point at which the final three books came out.  Preceding them was the revised version of The Gunslinger.  That presented a mild quandary for the chronologist: place it with the other copies of The Gunslinger, or place it where it would belong chronologically (i.e., between From a Buick 8 and Wolves of the Calla)?

If I went with the latter option, though, that would mean on the shelf, the book would go from The Gunslinger Revised straight to Wolves of the Calla, and that just seemed ... wrong.

The obvious solution?  To put the new hardback editions of books II-IV between the two.  It makes the chronological flow a bit wonky, but hey, nothing's perfect.  

And in case, you're wondering: no, I do not actually spend time worrying about these sorts of things.  I just place them where they make sense to me, and then if rearrangement seems called for, I rearrange at a later date.  This typically happens if I've got some music I want to listen to, or a DVD commentary track or something.

Speaking of rearrangement ... I don't think I like having the Illustrated Edition of 'Salem's Lot there.  I may move it to be with the other copies of the novel.


Proving that I'm not at all consistent, there are some audiobooks slapped on the end of one shelf to serve as a bookend.  Then also, you'll see where the main bibliography ends and the anthologies begin.  The anthologies are in no order of any kind, because I have yet to figure out what order I want to put them in.  Alphabetical seems more sensible, but I haven't yet cared enough to get around to actually doing it.

My favorite thing in that photo, I suppose, is the copy of Borderlands 5, the anthology which included the first appearance of "Stationary Bike."  I'm not a fan of that story, particularly, but the book is signed by Stephen King, which I suppose makes it a big-time collectible.  It's the only signed-by-King edition I own.  I typically don't go in for signed editions; I just want to read the book, so spending money on a signature isn't me. I'm crazy; just not that particular stripe of crazy.

In the case of Borderlands 5, though ... I actually can't remember the circumstances.  Was the book available only in the signed edition?  Did I just feel particularly prosperous that year and decide to spring for the expensiver edition?  (Yes, I know that's not a word.)  I think it was the former, because until recently, when I noticed it during rearrangement, I didn't even remember that the book was signed by all the authors.  When I did notice, I nodded approvingly, put it on the shelf, and said something about it on Facebook.  It's cool, but it's just not that big a deal to me.  I'm sure that infuriates some collectors, and I'm okay with that.

There's the graphic novel section, which is where I decided to strand the popup version of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.  (I need to find a better spot for that one.)  The individual issues of the comic books are on another bookcase altogether, and so are not represented in this gallery.  At some point, I want to figure out a way of storing them that will allow them to sit on these shelves, but so far, it hasn't happened.  They're in bag-and-board wrappers, and those fuckers just slide all over the place if you let 'em.

The books-about-King section also begins here. I love those two books by Rocky Wood, and I'm looking forward to getting a copy of the new edition of Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished later this spring.  Speaking of unpublished and uncollected ... see that green tome titled Stephen King: The Unfound Door?

You wanna talk crazy, let's talk crazy.

A few years back -- it was in 2003, I think -- I was emailed by a fellow King fan who had obtained, God knows how, a zip file that included what purported to be various unpublished and/or uncollected works by King.  These included published rarities such as "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber" and "The Glass Floor," "The Blue Air Compressor," "The Old Dude's Ticker," "Man with a Belly," and "Slade," as well as a few never-published writings such as "Squad D" and fragments from the unfinished novel Wimsey.

Me being me, I decided to print these out and have them bound the way I'd had The Plant bound.  Except it seemed awfully slender.  So I decided to take other King stories which I already had -- such as "Before the Play," "The Crate," and then-unpublished stories such as "Harvey's Dream" and "Rest Stop" -- along with interviews and introductions and other miscellany, make copies of them, and include them in the mix.

If it had stopped there, that might have been normal-ish.  Or if not normal, then at least non-certifiable.  But it didn't stop there, oh no; oh no, it didn't stop there at all.

It bothered me that the book wouldn't have a uniform look, so I decided to take everything that I wanted to include in the book, retype it so that it would have a uniform look, and THEN have it all bound.  (No, not in human skin; why do you ask?  Heh-heh...)

Included in the book was the never-published screenplay for Maximum Overdrive, which I found somewhere online.  I typically hate reading things in the screenplay format, though, so I reformatted it to make it easier for me to read.  Without adding or deleting anything, I simply took the stage directions and dialogue and arranged them in a more paragraph-like format.  I was quite pleased with the results, I must say.  If I ever locate the screenplays for Rose Red or Golden Years or Sleepwalkers, etc., I may do the same to them.

I spent months working on "editing" this thing, and while it was a fool's errand, I have to admit, I'm awfully fond of that book.  I've never sat down and read the whole thing back-to-front, but I've skimmed it a fair bit.  I love having it, and while some of its contents are ill-gotten, most of them aren't.  And anyways, it's just for me.

At some point in the next few years, a new edition may be in order, but I dread the months of work it will entail.

More books about King.  They're in no order at all, which I really ought to correct at some point.

My favorites in that group are Creepshows, the George Beahm books (The Stephen King Companion and The Stephen King Story), and Douglas E. Winter's Stephen King: The Art of Darkness, which is still the best book ever written about King's work.  Mr. Winter, in the unlikely event you are reading this, please give us a sequel!

Wondering why my copy of the screenplay to The Green Mile is mixed in with the books-about-King section?  Me too.  I only now noticed!

Ah, the DVD collection!  It's so dusty!  Good lord, Bryant, take a rag to those things!

Here, as you'll notice, I've gone with the alphabetical approach.

More DVDs. Some of these need a wee bit of commentary.
  • The blue ones between 1408 and Golden Years are DVD-Rs of the original episodes of Golden Years.  I've got those on a videotape, and had them burned onto a DVD at some point.  Say what you will about Golden Years, in terms of it being bad or cheesy or unsatisfying, but I still really enjoy it.  Either way, the original, uncut episodes are vastly superior to the edited version which now appears on DVD.  That version is about two hours shorter, and has a completely different ending.  Hopefully, someday the original episodes will be released onto DVD or Blu-ray, but for now, Bit Torrent is probably your best bet of finding them.  If you dislike Golden Years, the uncut episodes probably won't change your mind, but if -- like me -- you're a fan, I highly recommend that you seek the original versions out.
  • Fucking Haven.  I am not a fan of that show.  But will I buy the second season when it comes out?  Yes, I will.
  • See those bootleggy-looking DVDs of The Kingdom and The Kingdom II?  I didn't know they were bootlegs when I bought them, but apparently, that's exactly what they are.  Those aren't King movies, strictly speaking, but since Kingdom Hospital was based on them, I figured they sort of belong there.  Sort of.
  • That blank case after The Mist houses the motion-comic version of N. that came with some editions of Just After Sunset.
  • The two items that come right after Needful Things are the longer director's cut that used to show on TBS and TNT from time to time.  I had that transferred to DVD-R off  the VHS tape, but the tape hasn't aged very well; the tracking on it is abysmal, and in transferring, the audio didn't sync up.  Which means that while I've got two copies of that extended version, I've got zero that are particularly watchable.  Where is this on Blu-ray?!?
  • That disc that comes after Nightmares & Dreamscapes is a copy of an issue of Inside DVD that included the Dollar Baby adaptation of the King poem "Paranoid."  Hence, filed under "P."  It's no great shakes as a short film, but it's one of the VERY few Dollar Babies that's ever received any sort of legitimate video release, which makes it sorta cool, in an abstract, ultra-nerdy way.

Why is the BBC radio version of Pet Sematary mixed in with the DVDs?  That's another good question; I'm not sure why I put it there as opposed to with the audiobooks.

A couple of VHSes are in there, too, including A Return to Salem's Lot (a genuinely abysmal movie) and a Tales from the Darkside tape that has "Sorry, Right Number" on it.  Also, there's Stephen King's Nightshift Collection, which is just a couple of Dollar Babies: a decent adaptation of "The Boogeyman," plus the quite-good Frank Darabont version of "The Woman in the Room."  I no longer actually own a functional VCR, sadly.

Not quite pictured there on the end are a trio of DVD-Rs that have gems like "Chinga," "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson," "Word Processor of the Gods," "The Moving Finger," and the Biography Channel's King special on them.

Here we have my too-slender collection of Stephen King movie soundtracks.  I need to round that collection out a bit more one of these days.  They're held up by yet another random assortment of audiobooks.

More audiobooks, but these ones are mostly cassettes, whereas the ones above are CDs.

And more books on tape.  I've got more of these (including the original Dark Tower tapes as read by King himself), but loaned 'em to a friend and have yet to reclaim 'em.

And finally, here is my collection of books by the extended King family.  Somehow, Scott Snyder's Voodoo Heart seems to have snuck its way in there, too.  How'd that happen?

I've still got to buy several of Tabitha King's books.  I've read none of them as yet, but I plan to read Small World soon.

And, finally, my incomplete collection of Peter Straub books. I consider myself to be an unofficial academic when it comes to King's work, by which I mean that while I primarily read King's books simply to enjoy them, I do also study them and write about them in order to try and shed some light on what makes them work.  As such, I think an understanding of Straub's work is essential to an understanding of both The Talisman and Black House, so I'm slowly building up my Straub collection.

I read a few of his books twenty-plus years ago after reading The Talisman, and my memory is that Ghost Story is a terrific novel.  None of the rest made a huge impression on me, but I get the feeling that Straub's work is less easily enjoyed by a teenager than King's work is, so I'm looking forward to revisiting books like Shadowland and Floating Dragon and Koko to find out how my opinions of them may have changed.

And I suppose that's the end of the tour of my King collection. Thanks for indulging my mania!


  1. Nice collection, I guess you do have more books by the Master. I could run a close second . LOL

  2. Wow, Bryant! I am speechless and very, very impressed! I thought my King collection was a bit obsessive but I have nothing on you. You've got some editions that I've never seen before. Awesome work.

  3. @ Steve -- Oh, I doubt you'd be second, because I guarantee you I'm nowhere CLOSE to being first. I betcha there are uber-fans out there whose collections would put both of ours to shame!

    @ Michele -- "Obsessive" is probably the right word for it! But the fact is that it's hard to be even a semi-devoted King fan without looking a bit obsessive. Even if I had only half of his books, they'd fill up a whole shelf, and to most muggles, that'd be a sign of having an obsession. So I figured, hey, might as well own it!

    Thanks for reading!

  4. Very, very nice. And helpful - I can now come to this blog and look at the pictures rather than nourish my own inner obsessive. I'm in the process of getting everything, but I'm going for quantity/ price over quality/ specific editions. And part of me is rebelling very angrily over that. But I can just send that part, now, to this blog, so both my wallet and my fiance thank you...

  5. Regarding some of the older short stories you mentioned - any advice on where to find them? Some ('The Crate') are easier to find than others ('The Blue Air Compressor'). Thanks!

    1. Well, eBay is typically my first stop when looking for such things. I haven't had much money to spend acquiring rare and semi-rare items lately, though, so I'm a bit out of practice.

      Overlook Connection is also a good place for King items.

      Regarding "The Blue Air Compressor," it's a fairly lousy story. Unless you're a completist, I'd say it's not particularly worth your money to track a copy down. Same goes for "Man with a Belly." Easy to see why neither of those has ever been included in one of King's collections.

      With "The Crate," though, I don't get it. That one is a gem, and it deserves to be more widely-read. I feel much the same about "The Night of the Tiger," although I've read other people say the exact opposite.

  6. Agreed, 'The Crate' surely deserved a place somewhere in Skeleton Crew...I've read the filmed version is a fairly straight adaptation, perhaps that's why it didn't make the cut? Not that I'd know, I haven't seen it (yet). I liked 'Night of the Tiger' too, had a nice Carnivale feel about it...

    Thanks for the advice anyway! If those stories you mentioned aren't essentials I'll hold out for Doctor Sleep.