I remember when Stephen King released his book The Green Mile as a “Serial Thriller” in six volumes starting in March 1996, with the last book in August. I was nineteen or twenty years old, living in my own place by then; I would pick up the new volume at my favorite grocery store as soon as it came out. My mom and I were both collecting and reading the book, so after we finished each volume we would chat about it over the phone and eagerly wait for the next one. I’ll never forget it! Definitely one of my favorite King collecting memories, since it was like getting a new book from your favorite author every month—even if it was just a few chapters of one story. Now, even though the book has been released in a single volume novel, the six book set is a cherished part of my King collection. The thin, cracked, worn-out spines look great.
The Green Mile
Not too long ago, in 2019, Valancourt Books announced a Paperbacks From Hell limited series of special, mass-market size, previously out-of-print horror paperbacks selected by Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson. Each book was given a reboot on its classic cover design and had brand-new introductions. All of the books had the same branding on the cover and spines identifying them as a set.
When they first became available, Valancourt sold them with a subscription option where buyers could invest in the whole set of five books. Every couple of months or so, one of the five books would ship, arriving in a custom-printed Paperbacks from Hell box. It was such an exciting service. I enjoyed it so much, I subscribed again for a second round in the series for a total of ten books. Since then, four more individual books have been released. All fourteen can be purchased individually—or as a set for a discounted price. Their unique size and branding stand out on my bookshelves and I am enjoying the process of working my way through reading them all at my own pace.
Perhaps the most prolific publisher of collectible book series is Thunderstorm Books, established in 2008. Paul Goblirch is the owner and curator. Thunderstorm is not a submissions based publisher. Books are acquired by invite only and are all a part of a unique series. Thunderstorm’s fanbase is made up of serious collectors known as The Clubhouse. Members are given password-protected access to the website, where they receive early announcements, pre-ordering information, and the ability to self-checkout.
There are several different lines, each one with its own, identifiable branding, covers, end pages, and signature sheets. For horror fans who enjoy having special editions of books from favorite authors, Thunderstorm is a valuable resource. Just like I recommended in my previous article, it’s important to sign up for publishing newsletters from these boutique presses because sometimes, it’s the only way to know about a new release before it becomes public knowledge. Special edition books are limited to a certain number, so if you want to be one of about four hundred collectors to own a book—it’s important to act fast. You can sign up for the Thunderstorm Books newsletter HERE.
I only recently found out about the Earthling Halloween Series, which is a series of books celebrating the owner’s favorite holiday. Every year in October, Paul Miller presents a new, traditional horror book featuring a pumpkin with the number of the book’s placement in series. There are sixteen total, one of which was Goblin by Josh Malerman—it just got re-released last year. The last one was Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi. I’ve heard great things about that story. These special editions are printed as a limited quantity of five hundred, signed and numbered, offered at an affordable price.
Fifteen traycased hardcovers are also available. A traycase is a special, lidded box custom designed for the book. These editions are very expensive and can be acquired by emailing the publisher to see about availability. Definitely sign up for Earthling’s newsletter to stay informed on everything this publisher offers throughout the year. Last year, I beta read Ania Ahlborn’s thriller, Dark Across the Bay. When she announced the book’s hardcover availability there was a mad rush to obtain copies. Plenty of fans missed out on the limited run and later, as the books shipped and delivered, photos of the book made the rounds on social media and I have never quite seen such FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as I did surrounding that particular book. Everyone wanted to know where people were getting this new Ania Ahlborn book. That’s the magic of book collecting.
Lastly, I mentioned how exciting and fun it was to collect the six volumes of Stephen King’s book, The Green Mile and a few years ago, in that same tradition, Grey Matter Press released The Fearing by John F. D. Taff in four volumes. Perhaps the coolest thing about it was that the cover artwork on each volume was part of a larger piece of art—so at the end of the series, all four books could be pushed together to create the finished piece. That artwork later became the cover for the singular volume released afterward. I thought the whole concept was executed really well and it’s my hope that indie publishers will continue to think outside the box like that to create a more interactive and engaging way to buy collectible books.
A series of books with the same unique branding, cover art, or graphics is a great way to dress up your horror shelves. It can also be an interactive, engaging way to experience a book with a community of people who are also collecting/reading the editions or serial novels. As each book comes out, social media explodes with buzz surrounding the release. And nobody likes to feel that envious FOMO.