Collecting, For The Eyes And Ears
April 25, 2017
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A co-worker of mine has recently fallen into the rabbit hole of sci-fi novels. Every day, it’s read, read, read. And because of that, it’s also become buy, buy, buy. He does his research. He knows all the prominent authors, their styles and topics and their bibliographies.
Recently, he’s been talking about “collections” and first editions with increasing interest. As we discussed the viability of being a sci-fi novel collector, the parallels between his book collecting and my CD collecting became ever more obvious. Here’s some of the connections I made:
- Novels will move around between publishers. Albums will also move around between publishers. In both cases, the publisher determines the quality of the end product. The artwork may be different between different publishers.
- First editions of popular novels are just like first pressings of albums. They are desirable by those that care and can command higher prices.
- Both books and albums are reprinted in special collector’s editions, which collectors of each can have a great interest in. Because the content is usually the same, the improvements are usually better packaging and bonus material (extra songs for albums, drafts or letters or forwards by the author’s peers for books).
- Both can be turned into compilations and churned out for quick bucks by publishers. Although I don’t know for sure, I suspect the royalties to the writers suck in all cases.
- You can “remaster” a book with the same expected results as remastering an album. You’ll have purists that hate the changes and progressive modern types that embrace the changes. In the book world, they call it “revised and expanded”.
- The collecting of this “old technology” is a mystery to the majority of the public. The details of the versions and editions are lost on them. “It’s all about the music”/”It’s all about the story”
- You can find used copies of either at specialty used stores and save a lot of money.
- You can also find digital copies of either for free (legality aside), but for a collector, this is insufficient. The physical product is paramount.
- When a collector starts “talking shop”, it sounds exactly the same; only the authors/bands and titles/albums are different. They all have exclusive details and timelines and history, but they are completely interchangeable.
On the topic of money, he and I have both been doling it out. Him maybe a bit more because he’s been buying new, where I buy used almost exclusively. Yesterday, I gave him the opportunity to validate himself. I asked if he wanted to visit my usual CD haunt during lunch. I warned him it could be dangerous for me because the last time I was there, they had some very hard-to-find albums I wanted. Being hard-to-find also means hard-to-justify-the-price. I’ll spend up to $10 for a used CD I want, with gold CDs being the rare exception.
We get to the store and all the CDs are still available. Six of them, priced between $18 and $25 each. I ask him if I really want to do this, because it’s not gonna be cheap. He replies that he is the wrong person to ask for support. For both of our entertainment, I ended up buying them. As the cashier rung up my $144 purchase of CDs, my co-worker, red-faced and grinning, beamed with delight that someone was behaving just as irrationally as he does with his books.