March 1, 2007

I was looking over SubPress' order page for A Feast for Crows and was lamenting over the lost possibilities for this book. I, along with quite a few others, kicked up quite a ruckus on Westeros when A Storm of Swords finally saw daylight, eventually ending with Bill Schafer going the online equivalent of nuclear and demanding my identity "or else". IĀ suppose I was a big thorn in his side, but all I was trying to do was illustrate just how short of the mark Swords was when compared with the Meisha Merlin editions.

Unfortunately, Mr. Schafer saw things quite differently. Our collective demands for things like gilt and traycases went the way of the Dodo, with Martin himself vetoing the traycase possibility (gee, thanks George). Despite the fact we were already paying a high premium for the lettered version of these books, neither Schafer nor Martin wanted the MSRP to rise to $500.

Of course, most of us thought that absurd. An extra $90 wasn't going to put anyone off from ordering, especially given the popularity of the series. And the editions did NOT have to be split over two volumes. They could've been of the same trim size as the Meisha books - only requiring one physical volume - thereby significantly reducing production costs. I don't know if Schafer or Martin brainstormed the whole two-volume angle, but in many people's minds, it was a Bad Call (or, at the very least, an unnecessary one).

Let's make some quick comparisions between volumes.

LETTERED EDITIONS

A CLASH OF KINGS
(
MEISHA MERLIN)
A STORM OF SWORDS
(SUBTERRANEAN PRESS)
A FEAST FOR CROWS
(SUBTERRANEAN PRESS)
MSRP
$350
$410
$425
artist
John Howe
Charles Vess
Tom Canty
volume count
1
22
22
embedded bookmark
yes
no3
no4
enhanced binding
unknown (probably not)
yes
yes5
fold-out map
yes1
no
unknown
foreward
yes1
no
no
gilt (all edge)
yes
no
no
limitation page colors
1
2
2
remarque
yes
yes
yes
slipcase onlay
yes
no
no
slipcase stamp
yes1
no5
yes (two-color)
traycase
no
no
no
typesetting
in-house
outside
outside6

NOTES

1 - also included in the numbered edition.
2 - one book split between two volumes.
3 - six separate paper bookmarks were produced instead, two signed by Martin and Vess, respectively, and offered to BOTH numbered and lettered buyers.
4 - in lieu of bookmarks, a Tom Canty chapbook will instead be offered to early preorders, open to BOTH numbered and lettered purchasers.
5 - a stamp design was submitted by Vess, but erroneously omitted from the production run.
6 - this is an assumption based on what was done for Swords.

As you can see, there's an awful lot of "yes" marks in Meisha's favor. Additionally, these were enhancements added to the book itself. As such, I'd say the winner (so far) is clearly Meisha.

In my frustrations, I cloned SubPress' order page for Feast and made my own, based on what I'd like to see (and what I think it deserves). For a $425 book, this isn't unreasonable and COULD be pursued by Schafer. Click H E R E to view my "fantasy page" for Feast (note - the java stuff doesn't work).


- UPDATE - UPDATE -

Well, ladies and gents, you used to be able to access my specially doctored order page for Feast. However, Bill sicked his lawyer on me, Carol Ruth Shepherd of Arborlaw Associates PLLC, Michigan, whose firm demanded it be removed lest further legal action be taken. A copy of the "cease and desist" can be viewed H E R E.

Too wild, eh? All I can say is I must've been doing something right if all these buttons are being pushed.