Exclusive Book Releases: Money-Grabbing Scheme Or Worth The Read?

Victoria Mileson

Bookshops like Waterstones in the UK and Barnes & Noble in the US release exclusive editions of books. Waterstones is one of the most popular book retailers in the UK and one of the last surviving national bookshop chains. They offer exclusive, unique editions of their books, with a dedicated section on their website. However, are these different editions with virtually identical content worth the read?

The exclusive editions often consist of the same story just with a different cover, an autograph, an extra chapter, or author Q&A at the end. These extras encourage avid readers to purchase their favourite novels again even though the content is largely the same. An extra chapter is a bonus, given that there is more to read, but the price-point can often be higher, meaning it is hard to justify buying an exclusive edition for little gain over a standard copy

However, for those whose favourite books are offered as exclusive editions, the decision can be simple. They are perfect as gifts or to display on a bookshelf which a tired, re-read copy may not be as suited for. Offering a range of covers to readers can boost the book’s appeal and help high-street bookshops stay open, fighting off competition from e-readers. Anniversary editions for classics also celebrate the timeless work of the author and a different cover can modernise the story for newer audiences.

So, money-grabbing scheme or worth the read? Is it worth paying for an edition with a different cover when a standard edition offers the same content?

Amazon offering lower prices and next-day delivery for books means that high-street bookshops need to offer something extra to keep their doors open. Exclusive book releases give them this upper hand. Online retailers do not present the books as meaningful, and their recommendations are automated, so keeping high street bookshops open perpetuates the idea of books as personal and important. However, often independent bookshops do not stock exclusive editions; but they are by no means inferior and standard editions offer largely the same content.

Furthermore, it’s well known among the ‘bookstagram’ community that the US often has ‘better’ book covers than the UK. Exclusive editions may be unfair to readers from other countries who cannot buy them but there are already differences between book covers across the world. These differences mean that they appeal to different markets so, exclusive editions do just that and as a result, they boost sales, keeping our favourite bookshops open. Offering a range of covers to readers can increase the amount of people it appeals to and as a result, the bookshop and its authors profit more through increased sales and royalties.

So, money-grabbing scheme or worth the read? Is it worth paying for an edition with a different cover when a standard edition offers the same content?

It’s difficult to say. It depends on how much you want the unique cover, signed copy or how much the extra chapter means to you. Independent bookshops always need more support and when they do not have the means to stock exclusive editions, it increases competition.

Those wanting to read the work of their favourite authors should not be priced out of buying them through exclusive editions only available through certain bookshops.

Victoria Mileson

Featured image courtesy of Syd Wachs via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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