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Re: History of Middle Earth

Subject: Re: History of Middle Earth
by Urulöké on 2008/4/22 22:23:12

Hi Skwish and Khamul,

I'll address the US book collecting here (and start another thread on burnout, good idea!)

In 1982 Richard E. Blackwelder donated to the Marquette library his essentially complete collection of Ballantine paperbacks (every printing up to that point.) It took significant effort (time and money) for him to do this, and was a very significant accomplishment. It has been hailed in multiple venues as an essential tool of research for those interested in textual drift, etc.

However, in today's market, where transparency (being able to see what even obscure/rare items are bought and sold for) is the norm to the point of completely killing many marketplaces, I firmly believe that an astute shopper on eBay could put together a complete run such as the Blackwelder one in about 6 months just by emailing every paperback seller and asking them to tell you what printing is indicated on the copyright page. For a dollar a book or so, plus shipping, a full set could be put together. And it would have essentially no value in the collectibles marketplace - there's probably three people out there who want to have 20 linear feet of shelf space taken up by three books over and over again.

Then again, I have had no trouble finding nice copies of various early printings and finding happy homes for them - there are plenty of collectors out there who want a set from a particular year (when they were born, when they first read the books, when they were married, whatever) so there is still a modicum of a market for them.

I do agree with Skwish saying that the US book market is very different from the UK one - I'm still waiting for a super deluxe anything from Houghton Mifflin. That red single volume LOTR (that has been in print from 1974 until 2004) doesn't count....

But still, there's a place for the TCG to document US editions in some form, just like there is a place for them to be documented at http://www.tolkienguide.us . I am working on it now, and with the cooperation of Deagol will be providing linkages to his data on the UK editions as his site is the best destination for all that. The more sources for information, in various formats, the better for the collector.