The first draft of this essay was written around the turn of the century, when The Collectors’ Guide to Dean Koontz was slated to be published as a physical book. At the time, the Internet was still in its infancy; eBay had only existed for about a year, and the only form of social media were “chat rooms” and bulk e-mail groups such as SKEMERs and The Dean Koontz List (where I first encountered the author of this website,) in which more experienced collectors and fans could share their knowledge of lesser known titles, editions, story appearances, and other rarities with others who were newer to collecting.
I began reading (and shortly thereafter collecting) Dean Koontz’s novels in the 1980s. The first draft of my essay for this volume was a lengthy discussion about how the Internet had changed book collecting for both the better and the worse. At the time, I was still not fully used to how easy it had become to find almost anything online, including some of the most obscure items that had been virtually impossible to find after 15 years of searching during pre-Internet times. Although a tool such as the Net made collecting a much easier task, I felt that it also took away some of the joy of physically hunting for a rarity and finally locating it in the real world.
Now, nearly 20 years later, discussing the fun and perils of pre-Internet book collecting feels like listening to Grandpa Simpson reminiscing about life before the Great Depression. Really fascinating. Yawn. A more relevant topic today is the abundance of online information and misinformation (either intentional or as the result of ignorance) available to neophyte collectors. Sorting through conflicting information and trying to determine what is accurate and what is not can be a serious endeavor. This site aims to be your one-stop source for all things Koontz, without the confusion or misdirection.
Furthermore, there are a number of factors that make collecting Dean Koontz, in particular, more difficult than many other writers:
- His sheer prolificity. Koontz has been publishing novels for 50 years as of 2018; in that time well over 100 novels, short story collections, and book-length works of non-fiction have seen print.
- Pseudonyms. Koontz novels have been published under no fewer than 10 different pseudonyms; although many of these have been re-issued under the author’s real name, a large number have not and remain relatively obscure.
- 1970s printing statements (or lack thereof). Although determining a first printing from a later printing (or edition) is fairly simple and consistent today, this was not the case in the 70s, the decade during which the largest number of Koontz books were published. For example, Random House indicated a first printing with a number line ending in “2” back then, resulting in much confusion today; the Magnum re-issues of Koontz’s Gothic romance titles did not acknowledge the Lancer paperback originals that preceded them, etc.
- UK editions and signed limited and lettered editions. Although most of Koontz’s novels are published in both the US and UK, occasionally the UK edition preceded the US edition. A very large number of Koontz’s novels have been printed as signed limited (and lettered) editions, and occasionally these preceded the trade edition to general release. Some of his work has only seen print through the small press.
- Foreign language editions. As one of the world’s top-selling novelists, many of Koontz’s novels have seen print in multiple foreign language editions.
- Original appearances of short stories. Although Koontz isn’t nearly as prolific with short fiction as he is with novels, he did write a fair number of short stories that collectors will seek out in their original appearances in anthologies, magazines, and digests.
- Genre. Koontz has published novels in an astounding variety of genres, including sci-fi, romance, children’s books, caper novels, comedy, horror, action, political thriller, and others.
- eBooks and audio. Some of Koontz’s work is only available in e-format or as an audiobook.
- Questionable authorship. There is a large number of works, including over a dozen erotic novels, several book-length works of non-fiction, several short stories, and dozens of articles and essays (most of which appear in 60s and 70s fanzines), which either bear Dean Koontz’s name or which are believed by many collectors for various reasons to have been authored by Koontz, but of which he vehemently denies either original authorship, or states were re-written and often re-titled by others prior to publication.
Collecting Koontz is further compounded by the quantity of ARCs, proofs, bound galleys, and other pre-publication iterations of his books that exist. Good luck finding a copy of The Edgeway Crisis, a bound proof bearing the originally-intended title of the novel that saw print as Prison of Ice. Supposedly only 5 copies exist. Like Shirley Jackson, Stephen King and others, Koontz’s first fiction appeared in print in his college literary magazine. Original copies of The Shippensburg Reflector remain at the top of most seasoned Koontz collectors’ want-lists, yet few of us possess even one issue.
As a lover of paper books, as much as I would have treasured holding a copy of The Collectors’ Guide to Dean Koontz in my hands, I believe that its current incarnation as a website was a stroke of brilliance. It can be updated and refined frequently, and there is more room for images than would have been possible in a bound volume.
Whether you’re a fledgling collector, a seasoned pro, or a casual reader interested in what may not appear on the “also by” page of the latest Dean Koontz bestseller, this site will be a valuable reference in helping you shape or refine your Koontz collection. As wonderful a source as the Internet can be, it can’t always be trusted; misinformation and rumor abound. Whether you buy your books online or spend your days prowling the dark recesses of your local rare book store, I hope this website will help you to make smart, informed decisions and perhaps even open your eyes to an item or two that you didn’t previously know existed! Happy collecting!