Return of the Jedi, the third movie blockbuster also was treated similarly. The first edition was a mass market paperback by James Kahn, from the screen play by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas (Ballantine/Del Rey #30767-4, June 1983 with movie tie-in).
This was followed by the Science Fiction Book Club first edition by Del Rey #2144-4, August, 1983, printing code N31.
Beginning in the 1970’s Lucas licensed a plethora of other publications which only die-hard Star Wars collectors would have heard of. These included a Star Wars Trilogy, movie novelizations/illustrated editions of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. By the time Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released, books were published in a more logical order, including first hardcover editions (Del Rey, May 1999) with different lead characters on the dust jackets and a signed limited edition in slipcase with a foil embossed Darth Maul cover with Qui-Gon Jinn pin.
Additional Star Wars stories followed: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster; the Han Solo Series by Brian Delaney; the Lando Calrissian Series by L. Neil Smith, and in the 1990s Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire and the list goes on and on and on in fiction and non-fiction and juvenile fiction with print numbers so large that any appreciation in the first editions is unlikely.
In the face of this book mountain, my instinct is to stick with the Science Fiction Book Club hardcovers first released for the first three movies: Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker; The Empire Strikes Back; and Return of the Jedi, all not easy to find in perfect condition.
While Lucas may not have handled his publications well (from a bookseller’s point of view) he has gone on to not only make unbelievable amounts of money from his original story, but has taken that success to make substantial charitable contributions to support education. He founded www.edutopia.org and has taken Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge to benefit education (givingpledge.org/pdf/letters/Lucas_Letter.pdf), paying it forward in the present.
A good result for a good story.