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Collecting Science Fiction
Exceptions to the Rule
The Science Fiction Book Club, Part II

by Timothy Doyle

#118, 14 April 2008

In Part I of this article, I discussed the well-known rule of bookselling that states that book club editions hold little value. I demonstrated that a very simple search technique could find numerous exceptions to this rule among books published by the Science Fiction Book Club. The examples I presented in Part I demonstrated two common themes. First, many of these titles were from "classic" SF authors - names like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and E.E. "Doc" Smith.

Second, nearly all of these titles were omnibus editions - that is, editions in which two or more titles previously published separately are released together in a single volume, sometimes with a new introduction.

My research for this article revealed several more SFBC editions that will bring good to great resale values. All of the books presented below are omnibus editions, and as such they conform to one of the two patterns established in Part I. However, these titles are not by SF authors that would be considered "classic," at least not in the same sense as Heinlein and Asimov. In fact, I was surprised to find that Glen Cook was such a popular author.

Garrett on the Case (Angry Lead Skies, Whispering Nickel Idols)
ISBN: 0739455176
Cook, Glen

Garrett P.I (Old Tin Sorrows, Dread Brass Shadows, Red Iron Nights)
ISBN: 0739436082

Garrett Investigates (Deadly Quicksilver Lies, Petty Pewter Gods, Faded Steel Heat) ISBN: 0739447521
Cook, Glen

The Black Company Goes South (Silver Spike, Dreams of Steel, Shadow Games)
ISBN: 0739428438
Cook, Glen

The Black Company: Glittering Stone, Volume 1 (Bleak Seasons, She Is the Darkness)
ISBN: 073941299X
Cook, Glen

The next titles are all part of the Star Wars franchise - specifically, the Young Jedi Knights and the New Jedi Order series. Even though the movie franchise has apparently stumbled with the release of Episodes 1 through 3, the shared universe is still very popular in book format.

Star Wars Young Jedi Knights: The Rise of the Shadow Academy
ISBN: 1568652119
Anderson, Kevin J. & Moesta, Rebecca

Star Wars Young Jedi Knights: The Fall of the Diversity Alliance
ISBN: 1568656513
Anderson, Kevin J. & Moesta, Rebecca

Star Wars Young Jedi Knights: Under Black Sun
ISBN: 0739401939
Anderson, Kevin J. & Moesta, Rebecca

Star Wars The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory - Conquest / Rebirth
ISBN: 0739420305
Keyes, Greg

Star Wars The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos - Hero's Trial / Jedi Eclipse
ISBN: 0739412981
Luceno, James

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Enemy Lines - Rebel Dream / Rebel Stand
ISBN: 0739427776
Allston, Aaron

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide - Onslaught / Ruin
ISBN: 073941111X
Stackpole, Michael A.

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Force Heretic - Remnant / Refugee / Reunion
ISBN: 0739436015
Williams, Sean and Dix, Shane

Finally, when I first started researching this article, this was what I wrote about Scott Westerfield's Succession: "Extremely ambitious copies listed at $144 and up, but several copies available starting at $23 - not bad for a BCE!"

Well, one week later I'm double checking prices, and those low cost copies are GONE! This one is a real mystery: The two trade hardcover first editions collected in this omnibus are available for a combined price less than $40 to $50. I suspect that the omnibus SFBC edition will sell quickly for $30 or so, and the copies listed at $100+ will just sit. Still, this is a good title to watch for.

Succession (The Risen Empire, The Killing of Worlds)
ISBN: 0739438018
Westerfeld, Scott
$30 - $100 (?)


The Glen Cook and the Star Wars titles indicate that readers place value on convenience. They are both popular series made up of lots of titles. Instead of buying a number of individual titles, sometimes in mixed hardback and paperback formats, readers seem to be willing to pay for the convenience of having all of the titles collected in a small number of uniform hardback editions. I also think that in the modern world of book collecting, the old rule of book club editions never having collector value simply doesn't apply any more.

Of course, it is worth noting that many of these SFBC titles were published in the last 10 years. It is possible that the resale values will decrease in the future as copies in personal libraries hit the market.

In the final installment of this series, I will use the flashpoints I've identified in the first two articles to predict more book club editions with resale value, and I will research the titles to see how good I am at fortune telling.

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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