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So you wanna (Re) Collect the Expanded Universe

By: Adam Bryant

Edited by Kelsey Bryant

A couple of years back, I embarked on a mission that would take me across the galaxies of the internet and to bookstores near and far on our planet, saving as many credits for the task as possible along the way. The mission? To collect every single novel in the expanded universe timeline.

Specifically, I searched for every book printed in mass market paperback format to save what I could of my dollars, though saving money was no easy task. There are at least 150 mass paperback novels, and that doesn’t include young adult and children’s books! Needless to say, used bookstores and eBay became my best friends.

After a few months, plus a few excessive credit card payments late, I finally achieved my goal. Except for two books (Dawn of the Jedi and Crucible) all of my novels were in paperback or mass market paperback. The other two, at the very least, made for excellent bookends. At last, my collecting journey was complete!

. . . Or so I thought.

For a long time, I was happy with what I had. After a while though, I would stare at my bookshelf thoughtfully. I was happy to have saved credits by collecting paperbacks, but personally, I’m more of a hardcover man. I like the look and extra durability that comes with hardcovers, and I find reading the larger hardcovers to make for a more pleasant reading experience than the small texts of 5x8 paperbacks. A few bookstore trips later I found a couple of novels in hardback and then, the collector in me reemerged. My new mission: to collect the entire EU in hardback!

It’s an ongoing journey that I have embarked on for the past year, and so far, it’s been quite the adventure. I have collected 95 of the main EU books in hardcover, not counting the graphic novels I managed to collect in hardcover such as Dark Empire or Legacy.

However, I’ve also learned that there’s a price to pay when you (like me) seek to make your entire bookshelf one consistent size and format. Aside from the obvious credits involved, I’ve also learned that most of the EU was printed in either the 1st edition or Science Fiction Book Club edition. Some EU books were NEVER printed in hardcover, and some are almost impossible to collect due to price, or availability. If you, like me, are thinking of collecting the EU books in hardcover, here are a few things to keep in mind that I wish I would have known before embarking on this journey!

Keep your Expectations Realistic- Dreaming of a bookshelf where all books are the same size, sadly just won’t happen. Regardless of which format you’re collecting in, there’s going to be limitations. While many EU novels received a 1st edition print, there’s also many that were only printed in SFBC format such as Yoda Dark: Rendezvous, and several of the books in the New Jedi Order series.

Used bookstores are by far my preferred method of collecting these hardcovers. Not only can you usually get a better deal on price, but you get to see the quality and format before spending your credits. Simply put, you know what you’re paying for. While there are certain books you can only find on Amazon or Ebay, the descriptions are often misleading. The biggest issue I have run into is incorrect measurements listed in the descriptions. I have been looking most particularly for 1st edition size, and there are books I have ordered specifically because the measurements in the listing were consistent with 1st edition sizing.

For example, when I collected the Darth Bane trilogy, two of the books came to me as SFBC while the last one was a 1st edition print. That doesn’t exactly make for a consistent bookshelf! Sadly, this was not the first or the last time something like that happened, and sellers are not always too quick to respond to grievances (that is, if they respond at all).

However, through the journey, I’ve come to realize that bookshelf with entirely consistent sizing sadly is an impossibility. While it’s frustrating to get the wrong edition, I’m also grateful just to get these books as they can be incredibly expensive if you don’t find a great deal. Which brings me to my next point . . .

Be prepared to pay- Collecting the Star Wars EU in hardcover costs some serious credits, and remember, “credits will do fine!” Too often the one book I’ve needed to complete a trilogy or series has been the most expensive. One example of this is the new Jedi Order series where, sadly, most of the books available in hardcover are the most expensive, such as Dark Journey and The Final Prophecy. The same can be said for the Legacy of the Force series. And sadly, it’s not as easy as winning a pod race to win the credits you need. This may require bargaining on eBay or visiting or calling places like Half Price Books and checking availability at their different locations. One of the more cost-efficient methods is to buy a copy that was a “former library” book. However, this strategy often results in sacrificing book quality for a cheaper price.

While it’s not impossible to do, collecting EU hardcovers is not for the faint of heart, which incidentally, leads to my next point.

Do, or Do Not- As it was most famously said by Master Yoda, “Do, or do not. There is no try!”

Now I am not in any way suggesting to NOT read or collect the Star Wars EU. However, the EU story was discontinued after the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm. The hardcovers are also in short supply, which is why so many of them are rare and consequently, expensive. The hardcovers are amazing and will make your bookshelves shine like the glow of a lightsaber, but for those of you that just want to own the books for the purposes of reading them, the EU is more available and affordable in digital or mass market paperback format. While I’m not much of a digital reader myself, I certainly can’t deny the convenience of having more free space!

Speaking of which, there have been some EU books released recently reprinted in paperback form, with covers labeled as the “Essential Legends” collection. While I have mixed feelings about the artwork myself, if that style appeals to you, that’s another type you can collect. However, if none of my own cautions have deterred you from collecting the hardcovers for yourself, then in the words of Han Solo-

“Punch it!”

While it is challenging, it’s not impossible to collect the EU in hardcover. And hey, who doesn’t enjoy a good challenge, right? Personally, I’m going to continue with it for as long as I possibly can (or for as much as I can possibly afford)! When I read this series, it brings me back to my childhood from when I first saw these films, and at least for me, the story feels like a more accurate continuation of the first films. Again, if you’d like to collect all or at least some of the EU in hardcover then you better prepare to jump into hyperspace. Whatever method you decide, whether it’s hardcover, paperback, digital or a mix of all three- keep collecting the EU!



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