How Do You Decide Which Print Runs to Number?

A few years back, I worked on a big research project involving surveys of a few thousand collectors, plus a detailed study of resale values of certain comparable Limited Editions, and there’s a surprisingly clear line between the point where individual numbers increase collectability and the point where they no longer help.

I cannot get into the specific details because this was paid research I did for a large trade publisher that was looking into the business model (they decided not to enter the field because the margins weren’t to their liking — paying for New York office space is expensive, and they didn’t have direct sales channels which meant either creating them or selling through distributors, which take a 50% cut), but obviously I benefited from the information, too.

One thing the research turned up: specific numbers for books do make collectors more willing to purchase books they don’t necessarily want, so they can “keep” their number, which actually isn’t something I’m particularly interested in as a publisher. I’d rather folks buy the books they really want. If a full set isn’t their thing, I’m okay with that.

So, if the print run falls in the range where it’ll make the book more collectible for the collectors, I’ll definitely do that.

If we end up well into the range where numbering doesn’t reward the collectors long-term, the odds are I won’t for the reason mentioned above and a few others.

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