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Dress Up Your Horror Shelves: Special Edition Book Collecting

Exclusive, special editions of popular books make thrilling additions to any horror fiend's library.

Rare used books
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  • Photo Credit: freddie marriage / Unsplash

Is there something you enjoy spending money on that’s not exactly a necessity or considered to be especially important by other people’s standards, but is meaningful to you?

Some people collect things. When I was a little girl I had this obsession with mime dolls and mime masks. I had several dolls on the top of my dresser and the masks hanging on my wall. Later, in high school, a friend came over and made fun of them and I took them all down and packed them away but for a long season in my life, they brought me a lot of joy. 

Related: Possessed Doll Purchased at a Charity Shop Terrorizes a UK Family

These days, I collect horror books. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt; looking for “treasures” at secondhand book stores, thrift stores, and library or garage sales. It’s so fun to find a beat-up, old, creased paperback of a horror book I have wanted for my collection—but even more exciting are those hardcover first editions or signed copy scores.

Almost my entire Stephen King library is made up of exciting finds from unlikely places. Pro-tip: If you’re in a thrift store and you happen to see a hardcover edition of a book you already own, take the time to check for a signature. It’s a rare occurrence, but the fact that I know a few people who have found signed books means it’s worth the effort.

Related: A Thrift Store in Texas Has Had a Haunted Couch in Its Stock for Ten Years

Treasure hunting is all about being in the right place at the right time—so sometimes a woman needs to push past Lady Luck, reach for her debit card, and purchase her own damn limited, signed, hardcover special editions for her library. 

Let me show you where the magic happens. Since this article is the first in a series of “Dress Up Your Shelves” articles, I can take time to shine a bright light on several boutique publishers who specialize in collector’s editions of books. 

First on my list is SST Publications. What you’re going to want to do here is sign up for SST’s newsletter, just do that right now here—make sure you add it to your VIP/Contact list so it’s not filtered into your spam folder. The reason for this is that the owner, Paul Fry, is going to email newsletter subscribers important information and exclusive, early ordering opportunities NOT available to the general public. 

Related: 32 Horror Authors Every Scare-Chaser Needs to Know

On December 7th, Paul sent a newsletter for signed, limited, numbered editions of a Stephen Graham Jones book Demon Theory. Fans of SGJ know about this book. WE WANT IT. With the announcement was the cover art too:

Demon Theory by Stephen Graham Jones
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  • Photo Credit: SST Publications


I pulled the trigger on this book so fast I got a cramp in my “clicking” finger. I’m fairly confident everyone else did too as Twitter was in an uproar when SGJ thanked everyone and added that it was sold out. 

After I made my purchase, I actually read the description and noticed the listing read: “This Special Signed Limited edition is the original text which has never been seen before.”

I knew that Demon Theory was not something readily available, but I didn’t know this special edition was *that* special. After doing a little research, I discovered that Demon Theory was originally published in 2006—and maybe had an audiobook release—so I reached out to Stephen Graham Jones to confirm.

Related: Stephen Graham Jones: Where to Begin

I asked, “Was this (the SST limited edition) the first time Demon Theory has been released since 2006?”

He replied, “first time, yep. well, not counting the trade paperback version, that was probably . . . 2007? and, this will be a wildly different version, though: the way I wrote it in 1999.”

Demon Theory

Demon Theory

By Stephen Graham Jones

Copies of the original Demon Theory are still available (used) on places like Amazon—if you're willing to cough up a pretty penny! Because they're out of print (and lots of fans want to own everything SGJ has ever written) they're in high demand—which obviously drives up the price. The intriguing premise: When Hale receives a strange phone call from his mother on Halloween evening, they return to the house his sister disappeared from years earlier—only to discover a horrifying surprise.

Oftentimes, the assumption is that special editions are just fancy books that collectors buy but will never read—basically bookshelf adornments. But in the case of Demon Theory and other special editions that have caught my eye (like On This, the Day of the Pig by Josh Malerman from Cemetery Dance) there is something extra, extra special for fans who just want to read everything available by an author who has been around for a long time and puts something out that was previously out of print or exclusive to the publisher. Definitely worth the occasional splurge. 

Special Edition cover by Daniele Serra for A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
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  • Photo Credit: SST Publications

A while ago, SST Publications partnered with Daniele Serra, a favorite artist of mine, for special editions of Paul Tremblay’s books. This is kind of a no-brainer because in this case, a favorite artist is giving life to some of my favorite books by a favorite author instead of the cover chosen by traditional publishing executives. The results are so dreamy and everything a Tremblay fan could ask for.

Related: A Family Dinner Gets Terrifying in A Head Full of Ghosts