my vote: I don't mind paying a few extra bucks to get something special. I like stuff. And it makes sense from both a consumer and designer point of view.
on a high budget product (like most AAA games these days) you really might want to charge more than $50 per person for those hardcore people that will pay anything to get said game. Hollywood is able to make this up by having box office cost like 10 bucks, but there is a flat rate on video games. And you don't want to discourage regular sales by raising the price, and you can't be selective about who you charge. So you do a 'special' promotion of some sort for those who actually care, but you charge regular for everybody else.
As a consumer it is always my option to buy a special edition, so I have the option of getting a full color manual and whatever bonus goodies come with the box (like sound track). There is no reason for me as a consumer to say don't do it, because it doesn't raise my normal price, and it allows me to be able to pay for those goodies I would not otherwise be able to get.
The bad: if said goodies are actually game effecting. I have never seen this to be the case except with MMOs, however. But I have a general objection to the way many MMOs are handled in the first place so I really can't comment. I also don't want to bad-mouth the free games that have micro-transactions for 'special edition' content that use it as their only means of income to fund the project.
Note: special auras, a title on your name, slight boost in starting gold, a hint guide, a special face or outfit, and so on are not game effecting. They don't actually give anybody an advantage (other than the money, but an extra few hours of play could fix that). And it serves as a special 'hey, I paid a lot of money' which is fine.
the starting post states its not effecting gameplay. Something like a special face shouldn't change the play value. Its not like the special select circle in HoMM 5 makes any difference. The only one that I think can argue this (that I've seen) are the maps for red alert, everybody should have access to all maps in my opinion. Even there, its valid since purchase price is more for the special edition, its only justified that the person with that should have something to oogle for more time.
The alternative is just to have the price of ALL new AAA title games to go up. PS3 and 360 games already did it, PC is next (in fact I'm surprised it hasn't already happened). And I want that much less than the inclusion of a special edition that the minority can buy to make up the higher budgets.
So before anybody bad mouths it... think "would you rather everyboy just pay an extra $10 across the board for this game, instead of a select few paying an extra $20 and getting something that probebly cost 1 designer 1 extra week to include?