Where to find First editions and how to get the right price?

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Where to find First editions and how to get the right price?

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Giu 20, 2007, 1:01am

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Giu 20, 2007, 1:04am

I often scout out the second hand book stores for first editions. There seems to be a huge price range for similar works - excluding the obvious condition issues (DJ, spine, overall condition). Wondering where the best place is to

a) get a good idea of current values.
b) find the book I want.

I have tried Abebooks which has been helpful - is there any other suggestions out there?

Giu 20, 2007, 8:04am

Abebooks is good; a couple of my local used bookstores use it to help them price their books.

You can also try Alibris.

Giu 20, 2007, 10:07am

I like bookfinder.com too.

Giu 20, 2007, 12:07pm

I like Abe for the quick searches and bookfinder.com does the best comprehensive search across a wide array of dealers. Another oprion is: http://www.addall.com/

Modificato: Giu 21, 2007, 9:13pm

A very good book search site is www.vialibri.net , a lot like bookfinder.com but searches different book websites.

Giu 22, 2007, 4:09pm

On a different note: Among other things I collect hypermodern first edition historical/ mysteries and try to buy new authors first novels in this genre. To that end I noted a very positive review of Clare Clark's 2nd novel "The Nature of of Monsters" in the NYTBR. So I thought I would buy the first edition of her first novel. Turns out that the search sites list three publications as firsts, a Harcourt US edition, a Viking uk and a Penguin uk. All of these are hardcover but which is the true first? The author has lived in the uk and may still do so (a possible vote for a Brit first?). I am gussing that the Viking and the Penguins are the same issued as Viking/Penguin but Penguin still seems to issue independent hardbound novels in some countries so.... Since all three versions were issued in 2005 which was published earliest in the year? The sale listings do not indicate the month of issuance but after some searching I found that the amazon uk site lists Viking/Penguin? as a February release and the Harcourt us as an October release. So I selected a Viking uk copy from the dealer sites for purchase. What do you think? Did I make the right choice or should I go back to OCD school and retake anal retention 101 :-)

Modificato: Giu 23, 2007, 2:02am

#7 Well - that sort of careful analysis certainly leaves me in the dust.

Ijust bought the same book The Nature of Monsters (touchstone not locating correct title) by Clare Clark after reading the NYTBR also. I imagine the London edition is the true first - but I don't think that it probably makes much different in the end. In some cases, the US firsts become more valuable.

If you really want to cover your bases, you could buy both!!! That would satisfiy both eventualities. I bought the US copy - Harcourt - as it was available in the stores.

Do you really think it will be a book worth owning in the long run.

Have you bought any other books recently that you think are future collectors pieces.

Giu 23, 2007, 7:55am

#7 & #8, Yeah, it leaves me in the dust too. Whenever I get into a quandry, my husband always asks me "Why are you collecting? Is it only for the possible future value of the book, the best condition, etc? Is it to own a complete set of a certain author? Or something else?" Maybe you can help me with my current problem. I have obtained two copies of Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler. One is a first edition, complete number line, etc but is ex-library and has very obvious sun fading to its cover. The other is a pristine and beautiful book club edition. Which one is best for my collection? I haven't been able to decide.

Giu 23, 2007, 8:16am

> 9

I think the answer to your question depends on the reason you're collecting (to echo your husband). If you really want to collect true firsts, then the former is the one you want, even though the value is seriously reduced because of its condition. But if all you care about is having a copy of every one of Chandler's books, and condition is important to you, then go for the book club edition, understanding that it isn't going to have much monetary value (because it's a book club edition).

Giu 23, 2007, 8:26am

#10 Yes, that's the answer I had pretty much settled on. But I'm such a sucker for a nice dust jacket. Too bad the books not the same size or I could swap them out!

Giu 23, 2007, 12:40pm

#8, 9
Yeah, it's easy to lose sight of why you are collecting these books and become obsessed with the details. I just remember that I had a nice copy of Hillerman's Blessing Way which was a uk 1st which was vaued at about $250 (it was signed). The Harper & Row us firsts are selling for about $600 to $850. So it can be a significant down the road if the author is a success. Personally, I love to see those bright, pristine dust jackets on the shelf as well as to hold a book which has personal meaning for me. Every one of my collectibles has multiple stories behind it although only one is on the printed page.

I have picked up a couple of other first novels that I thought were worth a spec investment: Medicus by R. S. Downie (it's a signed uk 1st bearing the Michael Joseph imprint which, ironically, is a Penguin issue) and The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies, a us 1st.

As to whether a book is worth owning in the long run... I would sure hate to put my retirement investments on any selection. The odds are worse than those for picking the trifecta at Belmont. But an author's first novel is the best shot and improve if the print run was small and the book is made into a movie etc. etc.

Lug 2, 2007, 7:24pm

The book collector's magazine Firsts did an analysis of the change in value of what they termed blue chip first editions (eg Hemingways, Steinbecks, Fitzgeralds etc) since 1975. I was stunned to note that a copy of Fitzgerald's Gatsby was now valued at $250,000. It could have been purchased for $500 in 1975. A $40 copy of The Sound and the Fury in 1975 now brings $50,000. Enough to keep you vigilant in the thrift stores. Despite increasing scarcity I still believe that, as far as books are concerned, anything can be anywhere.

Lug 4, 2007, 12:20am

On that note - I recently (one month ago) bought a copy of The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck on E-bay. It cost me $50 US and was a signed copy - although it had a dedication to Bob. I wonder if that was a bargain or not??

Lug 4, 2007, 1:51pm

The Moon is Down apparently had a large initial print run ( stated by some to have been 65,000) and was not included in First's analysis of price trends. I also have a copy of this book and have determined it to be a "second state" first in VG/VG condition lacking the definitive point for first state editions. That point is the presence of a period on page 112 between "this that" usually paired with the omission on the copyright page of the identity of the printer as Haddon Craftsmen. If your copy meets these tests (no printer name, presence of period) with the Viking first published 1942 copyright statement it could be valued from $100 to $300 depending on condition. I have valued my second state copy at about $75. Now, if your copy bears a true Steinbeck dedication to Bob or even a Steinbeck signature alone, it would be similar to copies now selling for $3500 to $4500.

Lug 5, 2007, 1:15am

Scotchbooks - thanks so much for the information. Obviously there is a lot I do not know about first editions.

It seems that my book - although in good condition, has the identity of Haddon Craftsmen on the copyright page. I could not find a this that grouping on page 112 but it must be a second state copy - whatever that is.

I was told by the buyer that the signature was original - however now I am wondering. Does anyone know if there is a way of authenticating a signature - eg a webpage with the styles of signatures. I guess that does not mean it is a copy. The inscription reads 'For Don - John Steinbeck' There is also an exlibris sticker on the front page.

Would that value with an authentic signature be true for a second state copy??

Too bad - I thought I had a real bargain........

Thanks for the info - I appreciate it.

Lug 5, 2007, 2:51pm

Actually - on reflection maybe I should be happy - there is a possiblility that the book is worth thousands - even if it is slim.

Out of interest, how do you research these details. I have collected various first editions - about thirty or so - and would live to figure out the values. I could have some in my regular collection that I am not aware of.

Thanks again, Scotchbooks.


Lug 5, 2007, 4:39pm

First the signature: You can do a preliminary comparison by using the following signature site: http://www.purplehousepress.com/sig.htm
There are probably other comparisons available through a Google search but most of the sites I used have been taken down (they are useful to forgers also). I presume the exlibris sticker is from a personal library, hopefully that of somebody named Don. If not, that would make me suspicious. Will the seller give you a written statement of authenticity?
You would need some further information regarding the provenance of the item. It appeared to me that the signed items priced as I had described included a second state copy valued at $3500 but you can check for yourself as they may be found on bookfinded.com by using the proper screening parameters. The period may be found in the middle of line 11 on page 112 but it won't be there if you have the printer identified as you stated.

Sales values may be estimated by comparison of your copies with those found on bookfinder.com or Abe. But you do need to have some experience in judging condition and identifying first editions and points. Book collecting 2000 is a good place to begin.

Lug 6, 2007, 1:31pm

Scotchbooks - very helpful info - thanks.

My book has a period on lin 11 between the words - way There's.

There is no - this that - on line 11.

I did look at the signature page as you suggest - it is hard to tell although this signature is more spread out that the webpage. It definitely could be. The Libris sticker has had the bottom name part removed.

Anyway I will look into your suggestion of book collecting. I have come to understand a lot of the terms - I think it would be easy for a novice to get totally hosed with some of the sellers out there.

I have never bought a first edition for more than a $100 for that reason - I probably would get braver if I became more well informed.

Have you ever come across a bargain - recognized as something valuable in a book store. I don't think I have ---yet.

Thanks again. Karen

Modificato: Lug 7, 2007, 2:14pm

Good luck on your Steinbeck signature.

I very seldom pay $100 for a first edition but still find bargains at book stores and book sales. My prize is a $1000 first of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian which I purchased for 50 cents at a small town sale about 8 years ago. I have about 100 other books that I have paid less than $30 for that are now insured for$100 to $500 each but the internet has made this more difficult and internet phones promise to make things even more challenging. Oh well, the search is the fun part and I still believe that anything can be anywhere when you are collecting first editions.

Lug 20, 2007, 1:31am

Re: #'s 7 & 8

I dabble in the hyper-modern mystery and science fiction collecting areas. I've recently found that a relatively easy way to determine the release date of UK vs. USA books is to go to www.fantasticfiction.co.uk and search for the author. You can also easily determine the nationality of the author. In the case of Clare Clark, you will get a page with a little Union Jack flag next to her date of birth, so you know she's not American. There's also a short bio stating she was born, and currently lives, in London. Knowing the author's nationality is helpful for the cases where there's a simultaneous UK and USA release of the same book; in that case, the general rule is to "follow the flag" for the "true first" to buy for your collection.

Getting back to the release date determination, clicking on The Great Stink gets you a page with the release dates for the UK hardcover and paperback on the left, and the USA hardcover and paperback on the right. Of course, this information seems to be based on links to the Amazon sites, and Amazon does make a fair number of mistakes, so a search on bookfinder.com or even Ebay.com can be helpful in determining which book to buy.

Speaking of mistakes, Scotchbooks, you wrote you saw a hardcover Penguin copy of The Great Stink on Amazon UK. Looking now, the only Penguin version I find is the UK trade paperback, so I'm wondering if Amazon mistakenly had it listed as a hardcover and that mistake has now been corrected? ISBN comparisons are helpful here, again searching them on bookfinder.com, to see what book format the booksellers are listing under a particular ISBN.

I hope the above info is helpful. The fantasticfiction website is also useful for copying covers to your LT library, for figuring out the order of a series, for author pseudonyms, for aka titles of the same book in various countries, etc.

Regarding sources for book collecting information, a simple search on dogpile.com or google.com will overwhelm you with information. I'm constantly learning new things, or forgetting and re-learning things, as the case may be:)

Happy hunting.

Lug 20, 2007, 1:50pm

Re: 21

Hello Bookstothesky,

Thanks for the site reference. The date listings will prove useful along eith the author and publication listings.

I did order a bookfinder/ABE UK first for the The Great Stink in hardcover. The copyright page does indicate that it is a Viking label issued by the Penguin publishing group. I don't recall if I saw the Penguin "first" in a book description or ISBN data field but my guess is that a seller made a descriptive errror.

Anyway, your information seems to confirm the UK edition as the true first.


Set 12, 2011, 2:42pm

For anyone remotely calling themselves a bok collector, he/she should have a subscription to FIRSTS -- the b ook collector's magazine. Most of their back issues are available as well. Each issue will give you something you will need in your collecting and at the least will turn you on writers and books you would normally ignore.

Modificato: Set 13, 2011, 1:35pm

Just a tip to add for those ordering from ABE. I have found that more than 50% of the time, the very same book from the same bookseller, will be listed on Alibris. (I collect mystery first editions.) Now Alibris doesn't have a particularly well designed search or web site, however you can always use a coupon for 10% off the purchase price. Just google "alibris coupons" and you will get a listing of coupons of $1.00 off a $10.00 purchase, $2 off a $20 purchase etc.. all the way up to and over $10 off a $100 purchase. Therefore with alibris you are always guaranteed 10% off. I have therefore avoided abe when I can find the book on alibris. I have ordered from alibris many times and never had any problems. In fact, I recently ordered a book from alibris australia and it came relatively quickly.

Set 14, 2011, 10:49pm

Interesting. Thanks for the tip, songx.