Monday, June 15, 2009

the monetary value also rises

I like books, and own many of them and have recently run completely out of shelf space. (And though Gleemonex has invited me to do this this summer, and though it seems like a fun thing, one of my shelves is filled with books I've been planning to read, so I don't think I'll be able to fit it in.)

Because I'm a book reader and not a book collector, most of my books are cheap paperback editions. Some are cheap hardcovers (book club editions and the like). A few are first editions of very recent vintage, of books that had large print runs. None are worth more than a few dollars.

With two notable exceptions. A while back a person with special gift-giving talents procured me a first edition of Oblivion with a personalized epigram from DFW himself. Crazy! In terms of value, I have no idea what this is worth, but as I won't be likely to part with it, such measures are not relevant. It is without a doubt one of the coolest things I own (right up there with my Soviet-era assault rifle!).

But several years back, a very generous (and somewhat extravagant) benefactor gifted me with a copy of one of my all-time favorites, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. It is a first edition, first printing. One of only 5,090 copies published in 1926. Out of curiosity, I googled it and found this. Needless to say, my jaw dropped. Apparently, several copies have sold at auction at or above this level.

But, of course, that's not the end of the story. Having read this book, which is an excellent introduction for anyone interested in becoming a book collector (which, as stated, I'm not), I already knew my copy wouldn't be anywhere near the high end. Because, while mine is in good condition, it has some minor damage on the spine, and, most importantly, is without the original dust jacket. The presence or lack of a dust jacket appears to affect a book's value seemingly out of all proportion to the actual worth of the dust jacket. In the case of this book, the dust jacket appears to be worth upwards of $90,000!

So, alas. In retrospect, I probably should not have discarded the jacket that came with my copy.



Kingfish said...

Good post.

Gleemonex said...

Hee! Agreed.

I'm with you on paperbacks vs. hardbacks in general -- I hate to wait a year when something new comes out that I want to read, but I usually will. I don't think I have any books worth more than what's written in them ... but I've always wanted a first of To Kill a Mockingbird. Never gonna happen. ;-)

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