As a reader, you know I get passionate about my favorite book series. You know what drove me insane while I was reading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King? Every time a new book came out, the design changed. That meant that my collection ended up looking scrabbled-together instead of cohesive. The only DT books I have that match are mass-market paperback copies of the first four–though I lost the first one somehow, so I guess it’s just #2, 3, and 4.
My friend Bridget recently wrote about her quest to find books from A Song of Ice and Fire that matched the editions she had bought years ago at Borders. She ended up reading ebooks of the newer books, unable to commit to buying paper books with TV tie-in covers or that looked weird next to the ones she already owned. She feels my lack-of-matching-books pain.
If you share our angst and near-compulsive need to have matching books, don’t worry–I have a few hard-earned tips to help you assemble a book series and not end up with a janky collection.
Collecting the a book series in the same edition might be difficult if you start collecting before the series ends. I know, I know, you can’t wait to read the books and it would be absurd if I suggested that. I’m not. I’m suggesting waiting to collect the books. This may require some zen-like patience and library website stalking.
The reason I suggest waiting for the end of the series is that, if you have a series that spans multiple decades especially, you might get halfway through collecting one edition and find that they’ve stopped making it in that edition altogether. Or maybe one will come out with amazing art that you have to have, but you already committed to a different one. Then where would you be? (I know the answer to that: re-buying the whole series. I know us.)
Goodreads is going to be your best friend. When you finally do settle on an edition, you’ll need some ISBNs to make sure you get exactly that edition when you go to buy them. That is, unless you’re a lucky soul and the edition you want happens to be well-stocked in any neighborhood bookstore.
*Go to the Goodreads page for the title you want.
*See those tiny thumbnails in the middle column and the “all editions” link underneath? Click that link.
*When you see the one you want, click “more details”.
*BOOM, ISBNs y’aaaaaall.
Use those ISBNs at used bookstore sites to find exactly the book you want. If you search only the titles of the books, you might not end up buying the book that will match your other books; sellers on sites are often aggregated under the title for ease of shopping. You know, for those people who don’t care if their books match.
If you want to thwart this aggregation, and getting who-knows-what edition coming at you in the mail, search by ISBN. You can use BookFinder to search a lot of the used book sites for the title at once, or you can hit up individual sites like Amazon, AbeBooks, Half.com by eBay, Better World Books, Thrift Books, or Alibris. (Note: You may want to contact a seller before buying to make sure it really is the book you want.)
Go forth and collect those book series with style. Are you a series collector? What series would you like to have in a matching set if you don’t already?