Monday, April 24, 2006

Limited Editions vs. Consistent Spines

I had been eyeing the Marvel Masterworks hardcover books at Mile High Comics for some time, always wanting them but always managing to fight the urge. At the end of March, however, I finally caved in to my yearnings when I bought a limited edition version of the first volume of Spider-Man reprints.

Despite the thrill I got after plunking down my $40, the book sat on my bookcase for several days, the shrink-wrap still intact. I would occasionally pick it up and hold it in my hand, feeling the book’s weight and solidity. I’d pick it up and set it down, pick it up and set it down. When that wasn’t enough, I’d sometimes stare at it lying on its back when it should take its spot on the shelf where it rightfully belonged. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I asked my wife about it one night. “What do you think about this book?” I asked, handing it to her gently and wincing when she flipped it over as if it were some run of the mill book that wasn’t limited to only 420 copies.

“Eh,” she said handing it back. “It doesn’t do anything for me.”

I stared at her, hoping to get more. “What?” She said, already showing signs of irritation. “If that’s not the answer you wanted, why ask?”

“Well, what do you think of the look? Do you like the spine?”

She grabbed for it and I relinquished it against my better judgment. “No. It’s ugly.” Apparently she didn’t like the marble background on the dust jacket. “I can’t believe you’d get such an ugly thing. What’ll it look like on your shelf?” Now she was just toying with me.

I shrugged it off. “That’s just it. It doesn’t match any of the other books.” I pointed out how the other Marvel Comics hardcover books had the word Marvel in red over a white background at the top of the spine, with the title of the book in white on a black background on the lower portion of the spine. This one, however, didn’t match. There was no black, no white, only marble. I went on to say that there was another version of this exact book that costs less and would match the other spines on my shelf.

“So trade it in for one of those,” she said, trying to get past me and into the hall where her freedom lay. No such luck.

“But don’t you see. The other isn’t limited in any way,” I pleaded, trying to make her see the dilemma.

“Then keep that one,” she said, the answer coming so easily it was frustrating.

“But it doesn’t match the others,” I said, emphasizing my point by holding the Spider-Man book next to my other Marvel hardcovers.

She just shook her head. She looked tired; exhausted even. “Who cares if it doesn’t match? And who cares if it’s limited to ten copies or a million. You’re going to read it aren’t you?”

I just stared at her. The uncertainty on my face must have registered loud and clear. “I give up,” she said, getting past me by doing a dip and spin move that’d make Reggie White proud.

Still undetermined with what to do, I turned to the only friend I had left: The Internet.

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