We have all seen them advertised, whether it be a new edit of a movie such as the original Star Wars Trilogy, albums, Books or Videos/DVDs/Blu-Rays. A big con and money grab or a treat for the connoisseur?
I would say it depends on the insight going into the “Special Editions”, some books will have a special edition with insight from the author whether it be in an afterword or a series of annotations to the main text. The latter approach, which may well offer a better insight into the material can be distracted for some readers; My sister hates it when Penguin Classics do that as she feels it takes her out the book as “you immediately have to look it up”. I must be doing reading wrong because I will finish the chapter and then go back on any points raised while I was reading it and felt I needed to go further in order to understand (such as HG Wells’ made up word for hairdresser) the material, or go back and read the notes once finished so the next time I read the book it will be a more informed reading.
I don’t have many Special Edition DVDs which are duplicate purchases, most of them are Doctor Who DVDs which were released early at the change from VHS to DVD and lacked a full set of extras and restoration, mostly because they were released early on while the range was finding its feet. Others were released because of dramatic improvements of Reverse Standards Conversion- where NTSC 525 Line prints were restored to PAL 625 Line prints and the picture quality was significantly improved (The Claws of Axos is an example of this).
I think all comes down to the intent of the publisher, sometimes it is nice for the more dedicated fan to get a bit more.
In response to Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Special