Why are there so many different editions and covers of books?

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I hope there are book people here who can shed some light on this, but I’ve been buying books through used book sites where you can see all the different editions and covers of a book and many books and authors have an astronomical amount of covers and editions. For examples, I was looking up Salem’s Lot by Stephen King which has 86 different editions, \~60 or so all in English.

So, I get possibly refreshing the cover a few times over the decades, but how do we get to \~60 editions of one book?

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2 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

So, let’s say that you’re publishing a book. It does pretty well, and you sell out of your first printing. You COULD just reprint the book exactly as is and sell it again. But why would you do that? Wouldn’t your marketing be better if it’s a new edition, with a foreword from a friend of the author? Maybe a hardback collector’s edition, so that people who really enjoyed the book could purchase it again? There’s not much reason to just reprint it as it was already printed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Publishers only print the number of books that they hope to sell in a relatively short time – say, a few years.

If there is consistent demand for a book, all of the originally-printed books might be sold and more needed – but in the meantime the printing presses have been reconfigured for other books, and a completely new printing will be needed for new books.

So even if there are no substantial changes at all to the text, any part, or the binding, there will be multiple editions for any book that remains popular over a long period of time.

As for art: art has multiple functions for books, but publishers use cover art in particular to grab the attention of prospective buyers and maximize the chances of their finding the book interesting enough to purchase. Target audiences change, as well as ideas about how to best appeal to any given audience. Styles change. Plus art is a relatively minor expense, so sometimes publishers want to change the image of a book simply to stress that it’s new.