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I got two requests/suggestions for this week, but one I’d like to save for a later date, and the other I don’t have an opinion on at all, which would be boring. More relevant to my life this week is the idea of a special edition or boxed set of something, especially those that don’t add much new/original content.

My birthday was on Monday (28!), and my sister got me the new Harry Potter paperback boxed set with ridiculously cool wraparound art and an image of Hogwarts across all seven spines. It’s beautiful. Of course, I already have a complete set of the US hardcover first editions AND a complete set of the UK editions (though not all first editions, and not all hardcovers), but still.

Well, no. Not “but still.” If I already have TWO COMPLETE SETS, why on earth did I need a third? It’s a good question, and one that requires a bit of making myself an exception explanation.

In general, I tend to think of “special editions” as little more than a straight money grab, a company/property taking advantage of its fans by offering something that’s slightly newer than the version they have but not necessarily providing any truly new material. If you happen to love behind the scenes featurettes for some reason and a new Blu-ray has tons of bonus footage like that, then good for you, but I’m not the kind of person who goes scrambling to Best Buy when a film is released with one new scene or extended opening credits or whatever excuse they’re using to sell the same thing twice. The Lord of the Rings trilogy released three extended editions, but all told those added a full two hours to the trilogy’s running time. That’s essentially an entire extra movie, and one the fans already knew that they loved; it’s a bit more understandable than the inclusion of a new “Making Of…” or a grip of international trailers. Again, there are audiences for these things, but it’s not me.

So then why would I be excited over a set of books I already own? Well, aside from the visual aspects of being a book owner, the aesthetic of placing physical books on a shelf and displaying them for yourself/guests/your future children/whomever, there’s also a strange bit of practicality. I don’t often reread books, but there are a select few titles that I enjoy going back through from time to time, and the entire Harry Potter series is among that list. While mostly I reread in order to relive a story that I loved the first time around, there’s nothing wrong with discovering something new with each perusal, and one way to keep the experience fresh is to read a different book, a physically different version of the same text. Font, cover illustration, paper texture, book size, and jacket type all contribute in their own unique ways, and even small changes keep the read from being purely nostalgic.

But seriously, though, it’s beautiful.

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Hmm, I seem to be front-loading these with background and then not leaving myself enough room for explanation/opinion. But maybe that’s a good thing…

If you’d like to request a topic for next week or just have something you’d like to contribute, feel free to do so in the comments! See you next week!

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