you made some valuable observations, but I don't agree with all of them. I don't think that reprints would heart the sales of 1st editions because there is typically a significant time gap between the initial release and the reprint. So buying the first edition will give you 3 or 5 or 10 years advance on the material. Further, even if many books are reprinted, some would not be. So there is still this nagging doubt if you can buy that book later at all.
Regarding exclusivity. I don't think one can have it both ways. Either one keeps certain material private or one publishes it and thus makes it 'public'. Even if the print run is 'limited' to say 1000 copies, there is a second hand market, there is illegal copying, there is verbal dissemination of information, a.s.o. Hundreds of ways to spread the information. And finally once the copyright is extinguished it can be reprinted unlimited.
My opinion is that there is a practical exclusivity enforced by the huge amount of material available. I would for example be very interested to know how many have really read and studied the Tarbell Course. I guess many have it at home ( if not you should check out my latest Tarbell CD
) but how many have read it? Or take old magazines, for example The Sphinx. It has 17000 pages in which one will find literally hundreds of gems which are 'exclusive' to the ones that read this material.
We don't need limited editions or 'exclusive' material. Everybody can hunt for and find his own exclusive material in the material that has already been published.
preserving magic one book at a time.