Friday, June 7, 2019

Hidden Clues #6 The Textured Nancy Drew Flashlight Editions

In 2004, Nancy Drew fans noticed that some of the flashlight edition Nancy Drew books that were showing up in stores had a textured cover and that the colors were darker.  The fans referred to the books as "matte flashlight editions," and that name has stuck with those of us who saw those discussions.  The problem is that using "matte" with "flashlight" is very confusing to people who do not know what we mean, since the names mix together two distinct formats of picture cover editions.

As I prepared to write this post, I decided that we should instead refer to these books as "textured flashlight editions."  By doing that, we use a name that does not refer to the previous format of picture cover edition.  That should make discussions less confusing to collectors who are not familiar with this format.

The textured flashlight editions have a textured cover instead of the usual smooth cover seen on all other flashlight edition printings.  The surface is still shiny just like all flashlight editions.  All of the colors on the outside of the book are darker than usual.  The darker colors make the books easy to spot in bookstores.  When seen on a shelf with the regular flashlight editions, the textured covers will draw one's attention immediately, because the yellow is darker on the spine.  That was exactly what happened to me today, causing me to purchase the two textured books and write this post.

These first two photos show a textured flashlight edition from 2004 (left) next to a matte picture cover edition of the same title from the 1970s (right).



Notice that the cover art is darker on the textured flashlight editions.  The reproduction of the cover art reminds me a lot of the Perma-Bound library editions, which have cover art created from photocopies of the original editions.

I want to show you what these books look like, but photographs poorly reproduce what is obvious when viewing the books in person.  I found that I had to photograph the books without the camera flash in order to try to show the texture.

In the next photo, a regular flashlight edition is seen on the left, and a textured flashlight edition is seen on the right.  Notice that on the regular flashlight edition (left) that the light bulbs are reflected as separate from each other.  On the textured flashlight edition (right), the light is diffused where the bulbs cannot be seen as distinct, and you also should be able to detect some of the vertical and horizontal lines that cause the cover to be textured.  Click on any photo in this post to see a larger version.



For the next photo, the textured flashlight edition is on the left, and the regular flashlight edition is on the right.  Notice the same pattern with the reflected light.  You also should be able to spot some of the horizontal and vertical lines on the cover of the textured book. 


The next photo shows the textured books in the middle, with the overhead light reflected on the spines.  Hopefully, you can see some of the texture on the middle two books.


I took one last photo in direct sunlight to try to show how the color is deeper on the spines of the textured flashlight editions.


In the above photo, the regular flashlight editions look faded as compared to the textured flashlight editions.  None of the books are faded at all.  

I went through old discussions of the textured flashlight editions in the Nancy Drew Sleuths Yahoo! group to see how many of the books were printed with textured covers.  At least all of the following books can be found with the textured covers.

1, 2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 46, 53, 56, and the back-to-back edition of 1 and 2

The textured flashlight edition books are quite uncommon.  The flashlight editions have been in print for 33 years.  In 2004, there were at least three flashlight edition printings (noted by fans in the 2004 discussion), and only one of them had the textured covers.  If we assume that in each of the last 33 years that the flashlight editions went through three printings, then we can assume around 100 printings exist.  Only one out of approximately 100 printings has the textured surface.  We can therefore expect just one out of every 100 flashlight editions to be textured.

Most collectors are probably not interested in the textured flashlight editions, so the books are probably worth only marginally more than the average flashlight edition.  It should be noted that the current retail price for flashlight editions is around $7 to $9 each for new copies.  Used copies go for about half of that range.  The textured flashlight editions probably would not be worth more than around $10 each.

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