The terms special edition, limited edition and variants such as deluxe edition, collector's edition and others, are used as a marketing incentive for various kinds of products, originally published products related to the arts, such as books, prints or recorded music and films, but now including cars, fine wine and other products. A limited edition is restricted in the number of copies produced, although in fact the number may be very low or very high. A special edition implies there is extra material of some kind included. The term is frequently used on DVD film releases, often when the so-called special edition is actually the only version released.
Collector's Edition may just be another term for Special edition. It may also refer to books in special limited and numbered editions, sometimes hand-bound, and signed by the artist and containing one or more original works or prints produced directly from his work and printed under his supervision.
Popular culture widely employs special, deluxe, and limited edition in marketing, releasing subsequent, improved versions of film DVDs, music and video games. Companies widely use special editions and incremental improvements to sell the same products to consumers multiple times. This has been seen in the 10th Anniversary edition of Titanic, which simply consists of the first two discs of the previous Special Collector's edition, only with new packaging.
In many cases, successful film releases have had items made in limited numbers. These "limited editions" usually contain the best DVD edition possible of a film with special items in a box set, sometimes containing items available only in the limited edition. Items marked thus are often (but not always) released for a shorter time and in lower quantity than common editions, often with a running number (e.g. "13055 of 20000") printed on the products to boost the rarity feel, as the company implies not to manufacture more. It is also common to have such items packaged with unique designs.
With the success of DVDs, special editions of films themselves (instead of just special editions of film DVDs) have also become fairly common. Sharing similarities with the concept of a director's cut (another long-suffering inflation-by-marketing term). These generally feature additional in-movie material. The material may be footage originally deleted from the final cut, or new digitally-created, interpolated content. Unlike true director's cuts, the directors may not have had part in such projects, such as in Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, in which Richard Donner did not help create the new version, just supply the material.
Limited edition prints, also known as LE's, have been standard in printmaking from the nineteenth century onwards. A limit to the print run is crucial, as many traditional printmaking techniques can only produce a limited number of best quality impressions. This can be as few as ten or twenty for a technique like drypoint, but more commonly would be in the low hundreds - print runs of over a thousand are regarded as dubious by the serious art market for original prints, even though with many techniques there is no loss of quality.
Edition sizes higher than about 500 are likely to be of print reproductions of paintings, of much less value, though some modern techniques blur this traditional distinction. As in other fields, the use of the concept has become largely driven by marketing imperatives , and has been misused in parts of the market. In particular, lithographic, photogravure, rotogravure, and giclee reproductions of prints, derived from photographs of an original print, which are most unlikely to have any investment value, are often issued in limited editions implying that they will have such value. These need to be distinguished from the original artist's print, carefully produced directly from his work and printed under the artist's supervision. In UK and New Zealand the Fine Art Trade Guild ensures the quality and verification of limited edition prints by employing a number of strictly administered regulations for all processes and aspects related to them.
A limited edition is normally hand signed and numbered by the artist, typically in pencil, in the form (eg): 14/100. The first number is the number of the print itself. The second number is the number of overall prints the artist will print of that image. The lower the second number is, the more valuable and collectible the limited editions are likely to be, within whatever their price range is. A small number of "artists' proofs" may also be produced as well, signed and with "AP", "proof" etc.
In terms of musical albums, the term "deluxe edition" refers to a re-release of an album, generally a sufficient period after the initial release, featuring extra content related to the album. This often includes some or all of the following: demo recordings of album tracks; live recordings of album tracks; alternate takes, mixes, or edits of album tracks; B-sides from album singles that did not appear on the album; DVD content, including music videos. These editions are commonly repackaged, with the new content on a second disc and many feature additional liner notes.
Also, some albums are initially released in two editions, a regular retail version and a "special" or "limited" version in distinctive packaging and often including extras such as a second disc, a video DVD, or liner notes expanded into a hardback book. Generally, the special package is only produced for the first pressing or a set number of copies - some are limited to only being sold at one chain of retailers. It is important to distinguish this from an expanded re-release, since those are generally available widely and for a long period of time.
Milking refers to the practice of releasing multiple editions of the same product (usually a DVD or Blu-ray Disc), simultaneously or at different times, with the purpose of enticing consumers to buy more than one edition. This can be done with, for example, a special edition, a director's cut, an ultimate edition, and/or a collector's edition, sometimes with different features and supplementary material.
The consumer may be persuaded to purchase multiple editions, with the belief that the additional features or content will be worth paying for a product that is largely equivalent to one already owned.