I'm exaggerating, but not by much.
So why did I never go beyond GURPS 4th Lite, and yet have a near complete collection of 3rd books? Why yes, I can take 4th's mechanics and work out a campaign, characters, tech, a magic system, for a Vikings campaign, and do all the research myself in history books... OR I can let a game writer do all that research for me and suggest Viking archetypes, rune-based magic, etc. I'm going to go with the latter, thanks. Obviously, I don't think GURPS could have gone to 4th and continued churning out sourcebooks that already existed in 3rd. Or maybe they could have and redundancy be damned. Then again, a lot of GURPS settings were licensed from the last 100 years' greatest sci-fi and fantasy novels - Riverworld, Lensman, Hellboy, Wild Cards, etc. - and there are plenty more cool settings where that came from (GURPS Xanth? Spellsinger? Niven's Known Space?). I'm pretty sure those weren't GURPS' best-selling books, of course. The business model wasn't working anymore. They had to do what they had to do, and it didn't work out. Not for me anyway, but the low number of released over the past decade attests to the fact that perhaps it didn't work out for them either. SJGames is all about Munchkin right now, and good on them.
No problem. I've still got all my 3rd Edition books. And maybe you do to, or are picking them up on the cheap somewhere (I always see a lot of them in bargain or used bins at the gaming store). So to pay tribute to the 3rd and still best edition of GURPS, here are five ideas for maximizing your GURPS collection and using as many as possible over the course of a campaign. And no cheating! GURPS has supported some settings with a collection of books - World War II, Traveler, Transhuman - they don't count.
Warehouse 23: GURPS has a lot of supernatural/conspiracy-flavored sourcebooks. I once set up a Black Ops (not what it sounds like, more Men in Black than The Unit) campaign set at Warehouse 23 (this is before Warehouse 13 was ever on the air, but same thing, except directed by John Woo, if you can imagine it). Whether your power/fantasy level is MiB, Torchwood or X-Files, a team of alien/monster/artifact hunters can make use of a LOT of GURPS material - Places of Mystery, Horror, Monsters, Blood Types, Creatures of the Night, Illuminati, Aliens, Covert Ops, Atomic Horror... even Steampunk. Depends what you want to do. There's enough there to keep a campaign like that alive for years.
GURPS TORG(ish): Just a collection of random noises, right? In West End Games' Torg, different realities have intruded on Earth's. It's an invasion from different dimensions, with immediate "terraforming". Torg had its own dedicated worlds, but with GURPS, you can create the Earth Under Siege you'd like. (Or as I once tried to do, let players choose a sourcebook based on the kind of character they want to play, and just use those.) Has Australia been overtaken by Skynet-type robots? Has most of Europe been lost to a new Roman Empire? Who awakened all of China's dragons?
Shiftworld: My favorite campaign of anything ever, the idea is to switch settings on the players every so often, forcing them to tweak their characters accordingly after the world... SHIFTS! The twist: Only they remember the previous world; everyone around them is oblivious that they used to live in a Western frontier town just seconds before. Why? That's the mystery. My players never did solve it. Maybe that would've ruined it.
Space - Parallel Development: A new idea I just had. Remember how in classic Star Trek there would be these planets that used existing sets and costumes, like the planet of the Nazis, the planet of the Romans, the planet of the 1920s mobsters, etc.? Well, they didn't always use the same reasoning, but at least a couple times talked about the theory of parallel development, that planets not unlike Earth would develop the same way and have similar histories. Personally, I take more stock in the idea that powerful aliens stole people from Earth all through history and seeded them on planets as some huge experiment. So imagine a Space campaign where your starship encounters countless worlds where cultures were evidently transplanted. Some stagnated, others deviated, and a few even evolved faster than Earth central did. Just grab a bunch of books and throw them at the stars!
Well, that should keep us busy until a new generation needs GURPS 5th Edition...