Thursday, December 22, 2011

A new wrinkle in publishing?

This book caught my eye while Janet and I were at the supermarket last night:

What got my attention was neither the author's name nor the title; what got my attention was the line at the bottom: "Author's Cut Special Edition."

I experienced a confused rush of responses: "Whoa. Author's Cut? Never saw that term before! But I think I know what it means. But does it even make sense? Are books now being treated like DVDs?"

Of course, DVDs (and VHS tapes before them), led to movies being treated like books - as things that you can experience in chunks, starting and stopping and even backing up as you will. So books being treated like DVDs would only be fair. Even if a little weird.

A glance at the back cover confirmed my suspicion about what "Author's Cut" means:

"With an additional 100 pages of new material...Experience Dark Prince as it was always meant to be!"

So this book was previously published, and now is being republished?


Wait. Is HarperCollins saying, "We screwed it up the first time?"

Nah. But at the very least, they are saying, "We think we can get more mileage out of this sucker."

But of course, the real question is, "Will readers buy it?"

If they do, in sufficient numbers, other publishers may follow HarperCollins' lead, and the term "Author's Cut" may become commonplace. Books have always been subject to updates and special editions, but the term "Author's Cut" brings a whole new flavor to the act of republishing old material.

I am curious. I find myself imagining a conversation with Christine Feehan in which she explains how this whole "Author's Cut" thing came about. 

Hey, HarperCollins, how about putting that in the next edition: the "making of" featurette! 

And while you're at it, throw in a blooper reel.

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