Where do you start collecting Stephen King? I think the best advice has always been to start with first editions. The earlier the better. My earliest is a copy of The Shining.
A couple years ago, I stopped collecting first editions. I only have so much shelf space, and it seemed that newer books had such a huge first run that the first editions would never be worth much. I chose instead to buy special editions of these books. For instance, Cemetery dance released a beautiful copy of Full Dark No Stars. I chose to invest in that instead of a first edition. Besides, someone usually gives me a copy of the latest Stephen King book! (Hint, hint family – still no 11/22/63)
So what makes a good collection of Stephen King books? Depends on what you like. If you want to line all the books up in chronological order, Carrie to 11/22/63, then first editions are the way to go. Of course, that system leaves nerd questions, like, “What do I do with the Dark Tower books? Put them on their own shelf (yes!) or mix them in (no!)?”
I think the backbone of a good collection is strange stuff. Yep, a little bit of everything makes the collection a lot of fun. If everyone has the same set of first editions – that’s not really so cool, ya know?
Here are some strange things I’ve enjoyed hunting:
1. Magazines. These are cheap, and a thrill to read through. Magazines with Stephen King interviews, magazines that contain his original stories, or magazines about King are all easy to find.
2. Cemetery Dance editions. I like books published by CD. In particular, Blockade Billy, Full Dark No tars and the recent 20th anniversary of IT were all pretty cool.
3. Red leather editions. I’m not crazy about these, because they come out looking pretty uniform – but a few a fun.
4. Trinkets. The world is full of strange things from the world of Stephen King. A matchbox Christine (mine is blue?),
5. Booklets. Sometimes longer short stories were published as separate booklets. I have The Raft as a booklet originally published in Gallery and a small Penguin paperback of Umney’s Last Case. Sometimes the booklets are giveaway’s – just a few chapters of larger novels. I have a copy of a Wizard and Glass booklet – just the first few pages.
6. British editions can also be cool. I have the unabridged version of The Stand. Strangely, the British edition looks a lot thinner! Also a British edition of Skeleton Crew. Actually, this is something I don’t do a lot of hunting for. After all, the only thing really different is the cover, and again – I need the space.
If you can get your hands on the original recording of The Mist read by Frank Muller, I think it's worth it. I'm not sure what the copyright deal is on this book is, but it seems to be out of print.
By the way, there is an abridgment of Thinner that King really didn't like! It was so bad, he decided not to allow future books be be abridged. But then, Desperation was later abridged!
8. Newspapers and periodicals. In particular, the Castle Rock was a neat publication. I only own one. It was very well done and a great way of keeping news out there in an age pre-interent. There were several other unauthorized publications that are fun to dig up.
Phantasmayoria was a unofficial magazine published four times a year. I think this was the work of George Beahm. I have a Summer 1997 edition.
The Red Letter by Greg Hotchkiss was another King news booklet about 10 pages per issue.
Also SKIN: Stephen King Information Network was the work of editior Lori Zucearo. This publication is about 10 full sized sheets of paper – always green. It seems the 90's were really the era for these publications. (See blog post, The History Of Skin)
9. The Dark Tower in its first publication in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. I had a lot of fun hunting those down, it became a quest.
10. Original copies of the Richard Bachman books. The only one really hard to find it Rage. The copy I have is pretty tattered. Actually, all my Bachman paperbacks are well worn!
11. Comic books. I don’t purposefully collect these, but have somehow ended up with quite a few. Anyway, comic books can easily make a collection unique. There are some that are more fun to hunt down than others. I think the Batman #400 is pretty awesome. King reveals if he is a Batman or a Superman.
12. Some books about King are invaluable. For instance The Shape Under The Sheets is out of print, and a very unique book! Lilja’s Library is also a lot of fun to just sit and thumb through. (When it comes to books about King, I like books you don’t have to read beginning to end, but can hope around in.)
13. Movies. One Summer I tried to collect all the SK movies. I’m not sure it’s possible! And some I just refuse to invest in, making it impossible to collect them all. Sorry, Sleepwalkers and Langoliers! I don’t really think movies do much in terms of collecting. I don’t even keep the cases, but put them all in one folder of SK movies.
14. Desk Calendar. I have just recently become a big fan of the Stephen King desk Calendar.
15. Books with introductions by Stephen King. King’s introduction to any book is a lot of fun. I don’t collect these, but would gladly sit and read every introduction if given the stack of books.
What is it?
Some stuff I have I’m actually unsure. . . why I have it! I keep it in this big plastic tub, and my wife probably thinks it’s full of old books or something. I just toss srange things in there that I’m unsure what to do with. A lot of it are things that came in grab bags or – stuff I don’t know I got it!
- A big red sticker that says: “Buy Desperation and The Regulators and get a gift from STEPHEN KING... an excerpt from The Dark Tower IV.
- A TV Guide from May, 1997 with the Shining miniseries on the front. I’m not sure why I bought this (for something like $2). But now that I bought it, I can’t part with it!
- A VHS box for The Lawn Mower Man, unrrated directors cut. This is only the fox, still flat, never had a VHS tape in it. I’m not sure why I have this – or why I keep it. Hopeful it may for some reason be valuable.
- Stickers with this instruction from New Line Cinema: June 30, 1993, “Dear new Line Home Video Customer: Enclosed are corrected credit block stickers for the new Line Home Video title The Lawnmower Man. Pursuant to a court order, please place this approved sticker on all available copies of The Lawnmower Man in your inventory. The Lawnmower Man is available for sell-through at $19.95 suggested retail price. Thank you for making The lawnmower Man a huge success.” RIGHT!
- Papers. Yep, papers from a court proceeding regarding Lawnmower Man. Nothing interesting – just court docs.
- Charlie Fried’s original draft’s of his articles for SKIN. Including: Stephen King on Audio, Stephen King’s World of Horror, The Lawnmower Man meets the Rock Bottom Remainders Stephen King Plaintiff or Defendant, and more.
The really fun stuff are things that you think no one else has. My favorite is Charlie Fried’s notebook. It’s nothing that incredible – just a scrapbook by a fan. But I like it a lot.
There's so much stuff you could collect! Movie posters, event tickets, signed items, signed baseballs, bobbleheads, action figures, toys, bookcovers. . .
So, tell me – what odd things make your collection fun and unique?
Also see my 2011 article, Building A Unique Collection