I’ve actually had a couple topics I wanted to talk about, but my desire to post anything online, here or elsewhere, waned dramatically this month. One of those topics had to do with Del Rey finally publishing mass market paperback editions of the last two books in Terry Brooks’ High Druid of Shannara trilogy. I was on my way back from a meeting downtown with the development studio working on Eternal Warlords: Arena and decided on a whim to stop at Powell’s. They had several Brooks paperbacks on an endcap as part of a promotion of his latest novel, Armageddon’s Children, being released in mass market. Among those were copies of the second and third High Druid books.
Jarka Ruus, book one of the trilogy, was originally published in hardcover back in 2003. The mass market edition came out a year later, the same time the second book came out in hardcover, and I picked it up. Book three was released in 2005. However, unlike book one, Del Rey released trade paperback versions of the second and third books in 2005 instead of mass market.
As both a reader and collector, I found this infuriating. I had bought the mass market edition of the first book, but was expected to buy a different edition for the second and third. And, if I wanted my bookshelf to look nice and organized, I would need to shell out more money to get a matching edition of the first book.
I, of course, protested, in the form of not purchasing either of the last two books of the trilogy. Finally, two years after the trade paperback release, Del Rey published mass market editions of Tanequil and Straken. I noted, as I picked up my copies at Powell’s, along with a mass market edition of Armageddon’s Children, that Del Rey went back to the release schedule of the mass market edition one year after the hardcover. Perhaps I wasn’t the only person to boycott the trades, and the publisher got the message.
I should mention that I’m basing my release dates for each edition on the publishing information listed on Amazon. I did note that the dates listed for Tanequil and Straken are “Reprint edition” dates. It is entirely possible that Del Rey did release mass market editions simultaneously with their trade paperback. However, every time I went to the local Barnes & Noble over the last couple years, I only saw trade paperback editions of those two books on the shelf, while they had both trade and mass market editions of the first book. It’s possible that the chain stores made the decision to only stock trades because of price point and shelf space considerations, but the availability of mass markets for Jarka Ruus and Armageddon’s Children makes me think otherwise. Powell’s also lists the publication dates for the mass market as 2007.