In the world of horror and (to a lesser extent) sci-fi publishing, there has been for many years a somewhat under-the-radar business in collectible books -- whether they be rare first editions, limited-run deluxe versions of mainstream novels or even stories privately published and circulated by the authors themselves.
It should come as no surprise that the biggest and most collectible name in this market is Stephen King, whose huge popularity over his 42-year career as a published novelist has meant that the value of anything less than easy to find on the shelves of your local Barnes & Noble or at Amazon is usually quite high. It was fairly early in King's career that limited editions of his books began to appear, most notably The Dark Tower cycle; King himself apparently thought those books too weird for his mainstream publisher at the time, so he handed them off to boutique publisher Donald M. Grant and started a frenzy that saw Grant institute a lottery system for each succeeding book in the series.
King has done 'em all: rare first editions, signed limited versions and yes, he's even privately published a few things himself. As you might imagine, the prices for all these items (especially if they're signed) make collecting rare King a rather expensive endeavor, albeit a potentially good investment as well. If you're a fan, however, it's also a deeply satisfying hobby -- I've dabbled myself and some of the limited or special editions from King and other authors are not just books but works of art.
There's no way we can get to all of them here, but below is a sampling of some of the most sought-after and rare Stephen King editions around. If you feel like hunting a few down yourself, make sure your checkbook or credit card is in relatively healthy shape ... but it will be worth it. (Special thanks to The Collector for invaluable research assistance.)