Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rubes and Conies: A Review of "Joyland," Part 4

Earlier this week, I received my copy of Titan's limited-edition Joyland hardback in the mail, and I figured it was worth a few words.  But I'll be honest: this "review" will mainly be a delivery system for a rant about the subculture of limited editions.

Let's establish right up front that I am moderately hypocritical on the subject.  A consumer's primary right -- and perhaps his primary responsibility -- is to not purchase things that he feels to be immoral, illicit, or otherwise offensive to his personal sensibilities.  Example: if you're offended by profanity in movies, you probably ought to make sure you don't buy tickets to see movies with profanity in them.  When you begin trying to tell me that I shouldn't do so, however, we have a problem.

Inventorying my Stephen King collection, I find that I have seven limited editions:

  1. the 25th anniversary edition of It from Cemetery Dance (purchased because it had a new essay by King)
  2. the Grant edition of The Wind Through the Keyhole (purchased because I wanted the Jae Lee art, and because I wanted to read the book in February instead of a few months later)
  3. the poetry anthology The Devil's Wine (purchased because I wanted the King poems included)
  4. the story anthology Bordlerlands 5 (purchased because I wanted to read the then-new story "Stationary Bike"; this is also my only signed edition from King)
  5. the Rocky Wood book Stephen King: Unpublished, Uncollected (purchased because I wanted to read the book, and this was the only edition at the time)
  6. the Rocky Wood book Stephen King: The Nonfiction (same)
  7. and, now, Joyland (purchased because I wanted a hardcover copy of the book)

The only time I have ever purchased one of these things and resold it was when the "illustrated" edition of 'Salem's Lot came out.  The reason I sold it was that I thought the book was a poorly-produced piece of crap.  The "illustrations" were mediocre photos, and the design of the book itself was unappealing.  I had only purchased the thing because I wanted to read the deleted scenes that were included, so when I saw how lousy the book was, I made Xeroxes of the deleted scenes and sold the book on eBay.  I can't remember what I got for it; I believe it was substantially less than what I paid for it, but someone out there might theoretically be able to prove me wrong.  I don't think so, though, because one of my problems with the book was that the front cover sustained some sort of damage almost immediately after I opened the book the first time, and Xeroxing the pages also put some wear on it.  So what I was selling was a book that was advertised as having some damage.

I mention all of this to illustrate a fact about myself: I am not innocent of having never purchased limited editions.  I have purchased several of them, and would have purchased numerous others if I had more money for such purchases (and if, in some cases, I had been able to get a copy before the edition sold out).

I genuinely loathe doing so, though.  These tend to be excellent products, so it isn't (typically) a case of me feeling as if I have been overcharged.  Instead, it is that I do not like the idea of limiting content to a select group of people who are either (A) of sufficient financial means or who (B) simply happen to be luckier in terms of their timeliness than others (or who are, in some cases, both).  It isn't the expense that I mind; it's the exclusivity.

Of course, it isn't a perfect world.  We're all bound to not get things we want sometimes; a hell of a lot of people hardly ever get anything they want, and sometimes that includes food, water, and shelter.  I'm not ignorant of that; I'm under no illusion that my complaints about what King himself once termed "the politics of limited editions" are important, especially in the grand scheme of things.  In fact, they are quite trivial.  Nevertheless, I think it speaks -- in an admittedly small way -- to our culture of greed, and by and large I think it is a thoroughly unappealing subindustry.

More on that in a bit, but first, let's do the actual review section of this review.

I was moderately disappointed in the book, to be honest.  Let's be clear: when I say that, I am referring not to King's writing (I loved the novel, as evidenced here and here and here), but to the physical product itself.  The book cost me roughly $45 (more if you include shipping), and while it's a nice enough book quality-wise, there is nothing in its presentation or production quality to distinguish it from the average mass-market hardback.  Recent King releases like 11/22/63 and The Wind Through the Keyhole have been on the same level, but for less cost to the consumer.


So what makes this edition of Joyland worth owning? me, it's worth owning simply so I have a hardback copy of the book.  My point, though, is that for the quality of the hardback I received, I would have expected something that felt a bit more exotic than the mass-market hardback for The Wind Through the Keyhole.  Does this seems like an unreasonable expectation?

Evidently, for some the answer to that question is "yes":

I post that not to call out anyone in particular, but simply to illustrate a point: for at least some of the people who purchase limited editions like this one, the book itself is the least interesting thing.  Oops, sorry, no; the content is the least interesting thing.  The appeal for collectors of this sort is the rarity of the item, and -- in some cases -- the investment opportunity it presents.

I do not fall into that category.  An item's rarity does not matter to me.  I like what I like; I think the things I think are cool are cool, and I base my purchasing on those opinions.  Among those is an opinion which says "hardbacks are cooler than paperbacks, therefore, whenever possible, thou" (meaning me) "shalt buy hardback."  I also enjoy a book that has a few illustrations in it.

Those are the reasons why I laid down my hard-earned money to buy a copy of this limited edition of Joyland.  And on both counts, I feel as if what I received was not entirely up to snuff compared to what I paid.

I've already covered the issue of the book's physical production a bit, but just to round that out, let me say that it is my devout belief that if I handed you the book, you -- this assumed you have no prior knowledge of the product -- would not for a moment suspect that it was a limited edition.  It seems like something that could be purchased in a Walmart, along with the new Dan Brown and John Grisham hardbacks.  It's not a bad product; it just isn't anything special in and of itself (leaving the rarity aside).

So, what about the illustrations?  Well, they're nothing special, either.  I liked the cover a lot the first time I saw it, but since then, I've lost a lot of my admiration for it.  Let's have a closer look:

art by Robert McGinnis

I love the colors of the park as juxtaposed with the blues/purples elsewhere, so in terms of that, I think the cover is nice.  However, Annie herself troubles me, for several reasons, starting with this: am I crazy, or does her eye seem to be too low on her head?  Either that, or the eyebrow is too high.  When I took a good long look at the cover, I knew something was bothering me about Annie's face, but it took a while for me to figure out that it was the placement of the eye.

But that's not all about Annie that bothers me:

Again, maybe I'm crazy, Annie's posture weird here?  It seems as if her legs are considering walking in opposite directions.  There's also something that strikes me as odd about the direction the gun is pointing compared to the angle of her arm/hand.  If you know better, feel free to correct me; but it looks off to my eyes.

Also, why is she in a bikini?  If your answer is "because Robert McGinnis decreed that it be so," then that's probably accurate.  I already feel ambivalent about the potential misogyny of Hard Case Crime covers; this one does not mollify my concerns.

Alright, so that's the cover art.  What about the interiors?  Well, there are nine pieces, all black-and-whites by Robert McGinnis.  Let's have a look at each in turn (beware of spoilers if you have not read the novel):

Here, presumably, is Linda Gray in her final moments, with Lane Hardy behind her about to kill her.  Say, shouldn't Lane be wearing a derby, not a ballcap?  Just AS an illustration, I like this piece; but it makes me suspect -- rather deeply -- that McGinnis did not read the novel he was illustrating.

Here is a Hollywood Girl, who may or may not be Erin.  I don't recall that the Hollywood Girls wore lingerie at work; I recall that they wore green dresses, which this could be, I suppose.  But it looks a lot like lingerie to me.  It's a fairly sexy image, and here, McGinnis has gotten the hat correct (which is more than can be said for the cover of the paperback).

This, I assume, is a collection of conies enjoying the Annie Oakley Shootin' Gallery.  Am I crazy, or does the shooter have a nub instead of a right hand?

Given the placement of the image in the book (page 125, right after Devin, Erin, and Tom have gone for a ride in the Horror House), I assume this is Linda Gray's ghost, as seen by Tom.  I now quote Tom's description of her: "...long skirt and sleeveless blouse."  McGinnis has her wearing what appears to be a silk gown.  WTF?  I like the image, so I'm going to just pretend this is Solitaire from Live and Let Die.

Madame Fortuna, thankfully not wearing a bikini.

Page 158: "The kid was hunched over in his chair and the legs beneath his shorts were wasted..."  Page 159: this drawing, with crutches instead of a wheelchair, jeans instead of shorts, and a mostly healthy-looking boy instead of a terminally-ill boy.  Also, he looks about 13 rather than 10, but let's not be overly critical here.  Again, it isn't a poor illustration, per se; but it does not follow the book, and that's a bit of a head-scratcher to me.

Annie and Devin pre-coitus.  I'm pretty sure I think Devin would NOT be wearing a suit and tie, and I'm also pretty sure Annie is behaving a bit too much like a Bond girl, and not enough like herself.  Still, it's a decent enough illustration.  Not for Joyland, though.

This one, I like.  Lane Hardy, probably with The Faces' "Stay With Me" blaring from the radio.  And the sumbitch has his derby here!

Here, Devin's hair looks nothing like it looked two illustrations ago; did Annie fuck the flat out of it, or what?  More troubling: Lane was not wearing a fedora, he was wearing a derby.  Normally I wouldn't care, but it's kind of a big plot point, and anyways he was wearing a different hat one illustration ago!

I'm fairly picky when it comes to art; anyone who reads my comics columns knows that when art doesn't work for me, I tend to be brutal in the expression of my dissatisfaction.  McGinnis's art here is (posture and anatomy issues aside) certainly not bad, but a lot of it doesn't do a very good job of representing the story it should be enhancing.  So I would not label it as bad art, but I will label it as unsuccessful art.  That's a bummer; I was really looking forward to the art, and I feel like it has let me down more than not.

Speaking of letting me down, I think it's a misstep for King to continue to support the limited-edition industry.  Yes, I know; I'm a hypocrite, because I support that industry too, albeit only on occasion.  In my defense, I would say that I buy a limited occasionally, but only when it's something I feel genuinely compelled to own, such as the hardback of Joyland.  That one, I probably could have lived without; it's nice to have a hardback, but I don't think it was worth what I paid.  In a few years, it'll be worth a lot more than that, but, as I've said, I'm not an investor.

There are plenty of people out there, though, who buy them because they are investing.  And frequently, it's a short-term investment.  Check this out:

Yep, that's right.  The signed/lettered edition of Joyland is already moving for nearly $1100.  Only 26 were published, and at least one of them was purchased by someone who clearly had no actual desire to own that copy.  Larry Fire purchased that copy so that he could resell it to somebody and make a shitload of money off of it.  More power to him, I guess, but he's a scalper, and if I walked past a scalper on fire, I'd definitely piss on him to help extinguish the blaze.  Might do it even if he wasn't on fire, to be honest.  And if you told me in advance that I'd have that opportunity, I'd spend a few hours guzzling Gatorade so as to maximize my urinary potential for the event.

I'd be a liar if I didn't confess that what lurks at the heart of my distaste for this type of behavior my hatred for this type of behavior (why sugar-coat it?) is my own identity as a collector.  I don't get full-blown OCD about collecting, thank Gan, but I've certainly got my tics.  Foremost among them is that I am (as you already know) insistent on owning hardbacks instead of paperbacks whenever possible.  Example: I only own paperback copies of both Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, and it bugs me every time I think of it.  (I'll upgrade eventually, but just haven't gotten around to it yet, because the amount of money I can spend on non-essentials is rather small.  It's more than a lot of people can spend; a lot of people feel lucky to go to a movie once a year.  But compared to, say, the Kardashians, or probably even to the jackhole who can afford to pay Larry Fire $1100 for a book, I'm a pauper.)

You know what else bugs me?  Not having a hardback copy of The Colorado Kid.  There is such a thing; but it was a limited edition, and I can't afford whatever those are going for nowadays.  A big part of the reason for that is bound to be that numerous copies were scooped up by speculators, who resold them and as a result drove the price up so that people like me got priced out of the running.

That bothers me.  It doesn't bother me a huge amount, though, because at the end of the day all I really care about is being able to read The Colorado Kid.  And there sits a paperback copy on my shelf, so I'm covered.

Not so when it comes to the novella which will only appear in the limited-edition hardback of NOS4A2, which has been sold out for months; only people who bought the limited, or who are willing to fork over a pile of cash to the Larry Fires of the world, will be able to read that novella.  Unless Joe Hill publishes it elsewhere somewhere down the road, the odds are good that I'll never get to read it.  Why?  Because of pricks who pounce on these releases and then flip them.  See, I intended to buy one; but I had to buy a new car first on account of the old one dying, and by the time I could scrape the money together for the book, the book had sold out.  Now, to be fair, maybe that edition would have sold out anyways without the speculators being involved; maybe it would be a moot point.  Seems unlikely, though, doesn't it?

The odds of things like that continuing to happen seem good (there is an upcoming signed/lettered edition of Owen King's Double Feature  -- evidently chock full of material included only in this release -- which I fear I will be unable to afford before it sells out), and I suspect the problem will only get worse.  I'm sure that authors like Stephen King and Joe Hill and Owen King have their reasons for supporting the folks who publish limiteds, and given how nice and cool the three of them seem, maybe I'd be best off just assuming that it's all for the best.  But I can't.  I just can't do it.  It pisses me off, because the result is that people like me who want to actually keep these books are getting fucked by people who enjoy taking advantage of other people.  They are cannibals.  And not the cool kind like Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal Lecter, either; they're the greasy ones you see in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

So, for the record: that's a "no" from Stephen King to publishing an e-book of Joyland, but a "yes" to limited-edition hardbacks that enable so-called collectors to resell their purchases at a massive profit.

Life isn't fair.  You know, and I know it, and we all have to make our peace with that in our own way, to the best of our ability.  And my not being able to get some books that I want is the very definition of a first-world problem.  I get that.

That said, the culture of limited-editions is one of exclusivity and exclusion.  It's a culture of "I'm better than you because [points to collection]" and of scalperism.  I think it's a bad culture.  A lot of people will disagree with me on that, and I'm perfectly okay with that being the case.  Some people, you kinda don't want agreeing with you.

To sum up: I'm giving a negative review to the limited edition hardback of Joyland, and I'm giving an even more negative review to the culture of limited editions.

And that is how I celebrated my freedom on this July 4th: semi-hypocritical whinging.  But there are fireworks going off outside, and I had some barbecue yesterday, so it's all good.

See you soon, and thanks for reading.


  1. The part about limited editions that interests me is the fact that it's almost an oxymoron.

    Judging by the price tags alone, it seem pretty clear a lot of the target clientele are expected to be at least somewhere above the 90-99 percent population range, in other words, the wealthy or at least well to do enough of the world.

    That seems kind of odd to me, as it's been my experience that sometimes wealth can blind a person to quality, such as a well written story for example.

    I'm sure writers like King, and maybe even Hill have a few Eastern Seaboard fans, however unless any of them talks, I have no way of knowing whether they have the appreciation or the time for such pursuits.

    Also, if limited editions cater to the upper class, doesn't it seem counter productive to focus on the one income bracket that is less likely to fork over a buck, even if they can afford to?

    Hell, I think Cemetery Dance and Subterranean Press actually lose as much as they make with each new product, thereby leaving both publishers struggling as it is.

    Is anyone seeing any logic here?

    It would be more economically feasible to cater to the 99 percent, thus guaranteeing a greater profit overall, even if it does amount up slowly, it's worked well for the great publishing giants like Knopf, Random House or Scribner, why not with special editions?

    Anyway, here's a Jackson Browne song I always felt went along well with the book 11/22/63.

    E Pluribus


    1. I haven't heard that Jackson Browne song in probably thirty years -- good stuff.

      As for the limited-edition issue, I think you make some good points, although I suspect that a big part of the reason why a guy like Stephen King gives Cemetery Dance and others the occasional right to publish his books is to keep them afloat. Doing that helps those publishers put out books by authors whose work is less popular. Presumably. So maybe that is reason enough for King to do it right there.

      That does not, for me, wash off the stink created by the people who exploit that system for personal financial gain. It also doesn't make me feel better about not being able to read Joe Hill's Charlie Manx novella. That bums me out, and there will be some asshole out there who'll be happy to sell me the copy he bought to assuage my feelings about it...for three or four times what he paid for it, of course. And he bought it strictly so he could make money off the fact that I want to read that novella, and have that wonderful Gabriel Rodriguez art.

      Well, if that's what it takes for me to eventually have that novella and art, I'll pay it. But I'd rather give it to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez than whatever scalper I end up buying it from, because Hill and Rodriguez have done something to earn it, whereas a scalper has done nothing to earn it. Except have the money it takes to exploit that system.

      It's a cesspool, and I don't enjoy swimming in it, not even to the tiny degree I currently am doing.

    2. Well, since you bring the N0S402 special edition, I have to say, I don't quite get why the Manx stuff should be released in a special edition.

      To me, it's obvious it should all have been a part of the original novel, and it's sort of one of the minor let downs that the book doesn't go into more detail about Christmasland and the heroine's time there.

      To me, this special edition just sounds like trying to shoe horn in a couple of plot elements that have potential but just somehow weren't developed enough, I mean all we get are few shots of nightmarish Christmas shops (awesome!) and then that's pretty much it, nothing else is more developed and the few characters we are introduced to are bare sketches.

      This was like a golden opportunity missed, Hill should have used these scenes to establish a whole slew of interesting other worldly characters, he should have introduced other parts of that Inscape with a kind of macabre wonder (I can easily imagine an escapade on a hellish roller-coaster or funhouse ride!) and instead the ending just seems all somehow rushed and therefore unsatisfactory.

      That was really the only gripe I had in an otherwise perfect book. I'm sure we'll get to see more of Christmasland in the special edition, however I suspect it'll be mostly back story and still not as developed as it could be (if I had to give an idea of what stand-point of judgment on going on here, it would have to come from reading works like Tolkien and Neil Gaiman to give an idea of what I'm talking about).

      Still, one can hope.


    3. Here's my understanding of things: the novella that will be in the limited edition is actually a novella-length deleted scene that Hill cut from the final manuscript of the novel. I think I recall him saying that it is basically Charlie Manx's origin story, and that the reason he cut it was that he decided Manx was scarier if you knew less about him. I'm certainly not going to second-guess Hill with any vehemence, but I kinda have to agree with you: it seems like maybe that stuff could/should have been kept in.

      All along, Hill has planed for there to be a comic-book miniseries called "WRA1TH" which will be very Christmasland-centric. He's said recently that the narrative of the novella will more or less form the first issue of that comic, so that people need not be too concerned with not being able to read the novella, because they can get the story from the comic.

      Here's my issue with that: I was going to read the comic anyways, so count me in for that. But reading a comic is no substitute for reading the original prose. It's better than nothing, but still. I certainly would not recommend that anyone consider reading the comic version of "Throttle" as sufficient and skip reading the original Hill/King story.

      Also, I think it's a real shame that only a few hundred people are going to see Gabriel Rodriguez's art for "NOS4A2." His series with Hill ("Locke & Key") has many more fans than that; you've got to figure a good percentage of them are, like me, going to be sincerely bummed to not be able to have that art in a book on their shelf.

      Meanwhile, I hate to think how many copies were sold to people who will be looking to resell it almost immediately upon delivery. Scalpers, man; pass me that Gatorade...

    4. I was coming back to say the character was somehow more impressive (maybe because more real in prose than image) on the page than a comic when I reread your remarks above.

      As for Special Edition presses at all.

      Gosh, you know I can't help feel sorry for a lot of them because it's pretty obvious the best are run by people with a special devotion to the books they put out, and that kind of stuff just needs to be encouraged more, and I get why they have such expensive pricing, and that a lot of it isn't just profit alone.

      By giving such a high price, it's obvious they are trying to draw attention to the value of the works they release, along with all the extra materials provided in the best of their product.

      This is also sort of major problem I think, as resorting to such costs inevitably draws the attention of those interested only in profit and the bottom line.

      The question is, if they were to turn out these editions at normal market price, what would happen?

      Here the eight-ball is silent I'm afraid.


    5. What amazes me a bit is that the publishers of these books don't sell them for $1000 each. I would if I were them. By which I mean I WOULDN'T, but I mean that only because I wouldn't published books in limited editions to begin with. I say that having no knowledge of the considerations that go into determining the size of a print run, of course; that might change things considerably.

      What I'm saying is that if I were either a publisher or an author who thought people would scalp my products, I'd figure out a way to keep that from happening. It might take a while to perfect my method of doing so, but I'd figure SOMETHING out...

  2. Ultimately, I tend to agree with the "scalperism" of limited edition culture. It's a slippery topic, as you well sketch out here.

    I keep typing stuff than deleting it. Ultimately, there's not much I can say. I have no philosophical problem with limited editions/ special editions/ variant covers, etc. That's all cool. And I can understand the logic behind re-selling one at a profit, tho I can't stand the "speculator" of comics/ special editions / autographed-things. Perhaps it's just a judgment call on my part, but I think you list many of the ick-factor things associated with it.

    Basically, if you want an autographed copy of something and wait in line for it, it should be a personal thing. if you seek to re-sell it a profit, it becomes distasteful to me. I suppose, tho, that if someone really wants something and can't get it, they should be free to buy it, and these re-seller/speculators serve a purpose, there, even if it's one that seems morally or spiritually dubious to me. Small ticks on decaying bodies, or something, vs. small fish in big ponds.

    I'm thinking of King's thoughts about this stuff in the ending epistolary section of Song of Susannah. I can see his point of view (which if memory serves is something like he hates when readers demand/ assume they have a right to anything special-edition-related, or that it's unseemly to limit the copies or something like that) but at the same time, does it feed into this speculator/ ghoulish re-seller deal? As you've noted, the forums are filled with people who are highly focused and motivated on getting these things and re-selling them for profit. Does the artist have a responsibility to not enable such a thing? CAN the artist not enable such a thing? I know Shatner, for example, doesn't do autographs for this reason, as he doesn't want to enable people re-selling them, etc.

    A slippery slope, indeed.

    1. "I tend to agree with the "scalperism" of limited edition culture."

      I mean, here, that I tend to agree that the term fits my perception of limited edition culture, not that I agree/ support its scalper attributes.

    2. I figured that was what you meant.

      I totally get the whole "typing things and then deleting them" quandary. I did that a lot with this post. I'm well aware that this is one of those issues on which I end up sounding like a strident asshole. Maybe that's because I AM a strident asshole (though I tend to think I'm mostly not), and maybe that's okay.

      I feel similar to the way you feel about autographs. If I were to meet Stephen King and happened to have a copy of one of his books in my hand, sure, I'd ask him to sign it...if it seemed like I could do so without feeling like a pest. And then, I'd ask him to personalize it, so he'd know that I didn't want to just sell the thing and make a pile of money off the ten seconds of work HE just did. But buying a copy of the book because he sat in a room somewhere thousands of miles away and signed it...? To me, that's just weird. I don't get it.

      But, then again, I don't get eating tomatoes, either, and I don't get all stridently asshole-ish ranting about people who do eat them. Probably because their love for tomatoes doesn't prevent me from being able to eat apples; if it did, I'd have some prime rant material.

      To wrap this comment up, let me just point out something that I would hope doesn't need to be pointed out: that I realize that scalpers -- and those who buy from them (which has included me on occasion and will again, eventually) -- are perfectly entitled to do what they're doing. It's icky, but it's their right to be as icky as they want to be.

    3. Managed to track down that limited edition gripe from "Susannah", though whether it's the one you're talking about I don't know, it even depends on which edition you read from (in my case it was 519 of the mass market paperback edition (19, huh).

      It's where he talks about readers being spoiled, if I've got the page you have in mind, and maybe that's true although...

      He makes reference to how books were treated in the Middle Ages, and it's pretty clear the whole idea or morality of limited editions is wrapped up in the value of books themselves.

      Ray Bradbury wrote little speech in Fahrenheit 451 (pgs. 82-84, Mass market paperback) that said as good as any I've ever read.

      If I sound rambling it's because it's because my mind sort of is after trying to wrap it around the kind value people place on books based on the limited edition market.

      My verdict: I'm not sure it's even possible to gauge the value of books based on any one market, however finding out that value might help determine the ethical nature (or lack thereof) in limited edition publishing.

      ...Does anyone have a headache yet?


    4. The whole thing gives me a wee bit of a headache.

      I get why King would be annoyed with fans like me who sound as if they feel entitled to read everything (like the villainous academic collector in "Lisey's Story"). The stories are his, and therefore they are his to do what he wishes to do with.

      I'm not in that camp, but in a different one: I merely want to be given an equal right to read things like the Hill NOS4A2 novella. I'll be happy to pay whatever the author determines it is worth, or the publisher, or whoever. If, on the other hand, I'm not given the opportunity to do so, and instead have to fight with people who have a lot more money than I have, then the process has ceased to be a fair one. It has instead become weighted toward the privileged.

      That seems wrong to me. That's Stephen King -- or Joe Hill, or whoever -- saying "THIS group of people is more important than THIS group of people, at least in this particular instance."

      I'm going to quote King from a 1985 essay called "The Politics of Limited Editions," which appeared in two parts in his newsletter, Castle Rock. I don't actually have that essay, so what I'm quoting, technically, is an brief excerpt that appears in Rocky Wood's book "Stephen King: The Nonfiction." Here goes:

      "A real limited edition, far from being an expensive autograph stapled to a novel, is a treasure. And like all treasures do, it transforms the responsible owner into a caretaker, and being a caretaker of something as fragile and easily destroyed as ideas and images is not a bad thing but a good one...and so is the reevaluation of what books are and what they do that necessarily follows."

      Granted, this was written three decades ago, but given that the limiteds keep appearing, I think it's safe to say that King has not changed his mind.

  3. Another worthy article, Bryant.

    Of all the Collector's Editions you mentioned here, the one that I have long been curious about is the 25th Anniversary of IT. Not only one of King's best and most epic books, but one of my favorite novels of all time. Though it is now Out Of Print (of course), it is currently available on Amazon at the following prices:

    2 new from $2,600.00 ––– 5 used from $599.99 ––– 1 collectible from $375.00

    Pppppffhh. I guess I won't be seeing this anytime soon.

    I was going to ask if it was worth it, but––after looking at the color plates and b&w illustrations over on the official Cemetery Dance webpage––um, yeah, it's beautiful. Consider me covetous.

    'Course it's the same with that damn 3000-run of 'Christine' on Blu Ray, which, on Amazon, is currently available at

    32 new from $94.99 ––– 1 used from $99.99 ––– 9 collectible from $119.99

    Sigh. Someday.

    Anyway, just thought I would throw in my 2 cents.

    PS –– Now that I am rereading IT (and I am), I am reminded that every time I come to your website, and read the quote you have across your banner from the dedication page to IT, I think to myself, "Bryant should put the word "Kids" back in at the front of it."

    "Kids, fiction is the truth inside the lie, and the truth of this fiction is simple enough: the magic exists."

    Yes, he was addressing Naomi, Joe, and Owen at the time, and I understand why you took it off (wouldn't want anyone stumbling on this site to think this is a page for children), but––since Uncle Stevie brings out the child in all of his Constant Readers, I say that putting "Kids" back in that quote is apt to ALL King fans. The truth of King's fiction is not only that the magic exists, but that it brings out childlike wonder in all of us, young and old alike.

    Then again, maybe it's just me. Your website, as you please.

    1. I was happy to get that copy of "It," because it is one of my five favorite novels ever written by any author. That notwithstanding, I would be more than willing to trade my copy for a copy of the limited edition of "NOS4A2." So anyone who feels like making that trade, you contact me at and we'll work something out.

      As to the dedication thing, I considered leaving the "kids" in, but I took it out so as to make it more of a universal statement, and less of a direct reference to the specific kids in question. That degree of de-personalization seemed called for, at least in my own mind. (Also, it is secretly a callback to my high-school's senior yearbook; I listed that phrase as my official tagline, and left the "kids" off there; as much as anything, the phrase's appearance on the blog is a me-to-me callback of that senior yearbook!)

      It scrambles my mind a bit that one of those specific kids is the very same Joe Hill whose newest novel (in its limited-edition form) is the subject of so much hand-wringing on the part of yours truly in this post. Elsewhere, I actually pulled off an interview with one of those others kids!

      Pretty cool...

  4. Well, looks like there is going to be a mass-market hardback of "Joyland" that -- seemingly -- is going to contain all the artwork from the limited and THEN some.

    That's great, unless you forked over too much money for the crappy limited edition like I did. Ah, well.

  5. I just came to point out that your complaint about Lane wearing a baseball cap in the drawing just before he kills Linda Gray is baseless. He was in fact wearing a ball cap when he killed her. A South Carolina Mudcats cap, to be exact. He was not wearing his derby.
    Other than that, you've got a well-written article that I mostly agree with.

    1. Right you are -- it's p. 211 of the original paperback, for any of you interested.

      I appreciate the clarification! I guess I was so focused on some of the other details McGinnis had fudged that I simply assumed the baseball-cap thing was an error, too.