Martian Fever

I recently asked friends for book recommendations and an overwhelming number of them said that they were currently reading and "enjoying the hell out of" Andy Weir's The Martian. I'd read a few reviews of this book prior to the release of the movie. Swayed by the reviews of people who felt the science was a little too heavy on the fiction side, I decided to just wait and see the movie. Now I'm wondering if that was the wrong call.

Because I love my friends, I decided to take another look at this title, and because the Holiday season is fast approaching and I need to save my pennies, I decided to look for a used copy. To my amazement, certain used copies over on Amazon are starting at $40 and going all the way to $375 -- now yes, true, they're listed as "collectible," and as such you'd think that would mean First Editions / First Printings and/or Signed editions. Mostly you'd be right. The higher priced copies are signed, some are even first printings, but that first $40 copy? Well, here's the listing:

Notice, it states that it is a 20th printing. Not signed. Just "1st edition 20th printing."

Thinking maybe I missed something, I went in search of why the 20th printing might be so valuable. Was it a particularly low print run? Were they all low print runs, making everything through the 20th printing more valuable? Apparently someone (or several someones) thought so, but the truth is I couldn't find anything special about this particular print run. Now I did find a 20th printing that was signed, listing for $149 over on eBay (UK), and another one listing for $170 over on the Half-Price Books Marketplace. But, honestly, I think is good old market inflation and a couple of people taking advantage due to the popularity of the movie. (but if the market will bear it, who am I to argue?)

Considering that (unsigned) first printings are listing at $90, and signed first printings are listing in the $200 - $400 range. I suspect that the 20th printing (signed or not) is being touted primarily as a "first edition" by someone who is either not clear on how important the printing is, or they're attempting to sell to an audience who doesn't understand the difference. 

Signed "later" printings (I've seen this term applied to 15th and subsequent printings), on average, go for about $90-$115. Considering a signed 15th printing in fine condition is selling at the $115 level, I'd say the signed 20th printing would be worth less than $100 at this point.

So here's the scoop:

The Martian by Andy Weir
Published: Crown, February 11, 2014 (U.S.)
Orig. price: $25.00
First print run: 60,000 [PW]

The first print run wasn't block buster, but it wasn't exactly tiny either. Given it's popularity, I doubt subsequent print runs were low.

There was also a signed, limited U.K. edition of 1,000 copies published by Del Ray (London) in 2014. These list for between $350 and $450. 

Notice the difference?
A signed copy from the U.K. edition of 1,000: $350 - $450
A signed copy from the U.S. edition (first printing) of 60,000: $140 - $250
A signed copy from later printings: $90 - $115
Subterranean Press also did two signed, limited editions in 2015:

Trade edition: 750 copies. These list for about $150.
Lettered edition: 26 leather-bound copies. You'll be hard pressed to find any of these listed for sale through the normal marketplaces.

Labels: , , ,