May 31, 2022

Life's a Fiction and the World's a Lie...

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three
Stephen King (1987)
The second book in The Dark Tower saga was first published 35 years ago this month in May 1987.  It was published five years after The Dark Tower was introduced to readers in the first book in the series: The Gunslinger.  It's one of my favorite books in the series, and the story in which we're introduced to two of my favorite characters in the entire Stephen King universe: Eddie and Susannah Dean.

The Drawing Of The Three was announced to fans on the cover of the April/May 1987 issue of Castle Rock, the Stephen King newsletter.  Every source I could find, including this newsletter and the ISBN, list the publication date as "May 1987".  However, the book was not at all readily available to many of the people who wanted to read it at that time.

One of the few things about the modern world that I find to be an improvement over the world that existed in last two decades of the 20th century is the availability of artistic works.  We take it for granted today that if we want to read a book, or look at a painting or watch a movie or listen to some music, all we need to do is reach into our pocket and tap a few buttons on our smart phone.  Most things can be obtained instantly, but even for those few things that can't be streamed or downloaded, you have access to thousands of stores and independent sellers who will sell it to you and have it shipped to your front door within a few days.  It wasn't that long ago that if the stores in your area didn't have it or couldn't special order it, you just didn't get it.

left:  Morning News - Wilmington, Delaware (May 14, 1987)
right:  Hartford Courant - Hartford, Connecticut (August 8, 1987)

That was the case with The Drawing Of The Three in 1987.  There were only 30,000 copies in its initial print run, so even if you were lucky enough to find a copy for sale, you were going to pay through the nose for it.  The book had a retail price of $35 but its scarcity drove up the price to $100 at the low end, going as high as $500.  Keep in mind that this was what it was going for back in 1987.  With inflation, you're talking about an approximate cost of $250 to $1,270 in 2022 dollars.

Today, you can get it delivered instantly to the Kindle app for $8.99.  I ran that through the inflation calculator in reverse to get an estimate of what that would cost in 1987 dollars and came up with $3.53.  That's about 10% of the suggested retail price of $35 on the book jacket when it first came out, and a hell of a lot less than what it was actually selling for.  Even a hardcover copy with library binding sells for less than $35 today.  With all of the chaos going on in the world today, it's important to take a moment to appreciate things like that.  We live in a time when you can have just about any book, song, movie or television show that you can think of delivered to your pocket in a matter of seconds, and in most cases, it cost less than a meal at a fast food restaurant.