Books Value - How to Collect Books That Will Appreciate In Value

Before you can begin to assess the possible books values, you need to first understand the difference between the common reader and a book collector. Readers appreciate books for their literary value and usually do not care about the condition or monetary value of the books they own and read. Collectors may indeed enjoy reading their books just as much as any regular reader, but they also pay special attention to the care of their books. Often, the collectors may own two copies of a book - a valuable presentation copy and a regular reading copy.

Sample of Presentation Copy and a Reading Copy of Wonderful Wizard of Oz

So in order to judge which books will become more valuable, you must begin to look at the books through the eyes of a collector, not a reader. A collector assesses a book in several areas to see if it will become more valuable in the future.

Author’s Status. How known is the author? Does he or she have a name common to many households? How important is the author as a literary figure?

Number of Printed Copies and future demands. Books with a vast number of copies printed of them have the problem of their supply far exceeding their demand, which makes them essentially worthless from a collector's viewpoint.

In order for a book to have value, it must have a demand for it that outstrips its supply - or in your case, if there will be a demand for it in the future. In regards to the future Oz books value you can check my previous newsletter. New Wizard of Oz Movie and its Impact on the Oz Books

Since my last few articles, there were two more movie - related events announced. On April 21, 2010 one announcement mentioned that Robert Downey Jr. as the Wizard of Oz in "The Great Powerful" and another announcement from May 18, 2010 indicated that Drew Barrymore to Direct WIZARD OF OZ Flick, SURRENDER DOROTHY

In order to judge whether or not books value is likely to increase, keep an eye on websites such as AbeBooks or Alibris. These are both giants in the online book industry and are excellent indicators of what prices buyers are willing to pay for books.

Edition. In most cases, only the first printing of a first edition is of interest to collectors. Book collectors have a high regard for priority; they search for first EDITIONS, first PRINTINGS, first ISSUES, first STATES, first BOOKS (of specific authors), first APPEARANCES, and earliest IMPRINTS. You could go against the grain and collect second editions or second printings, but if you ever decided to sell or otherwise dispose of your collection you would likely find that your collection would attract less interest than a similar collection of books in first editions.

Specialty. Perhaps the best way for you to get a feel for which books value will increase in the future is to specialize in a particular genre of books (I hope it is a Wizard of Oz book series). This will allow you to focus your time, energy, and money to acquire books that are most likely to become more valuable. This makes it easier for you to judge which books value will increase in the future because you will already know which authors and books sell for how much and can begin to recognize trends in the prices that books fetch.

Condition. I know from years of experience with Oz books, if the book is in poor condition, it will be worth nothing or much less, even if in high demand. Simply stated, nobody wants an ugly book!

Book on the left in near Fine condition while book on the right is in Poor condition

"Condition is important to book collectors" is probably an understatement. So when thinking about adding a book to your collection, always take into consideration the condition of the book. A good adage to follow would be to "always choose the best condition copy that you can afford" with two important "ifs": if the copy is reasonably priced and if you cannot expect to find a better copy then you must decide whether to settle for a copy in lesser condition.

If you decide to settle for a volume in less than desirable condition, it is normally with the hopes of upgrading when you have the opportunity to purchase a better copy. This is a personal decision. Some collectors would prefer to not have a book in their collection if the condition does not meet their standards, while others prefer to have a copy of the book even in lesser condition because they believe that it may be a long time before they have an opportunity to locate a very good or fine copy.

Some types of books are much more difficult to find in fine condition than others. Those books normally receive considerable usage as opposed to being read once or a few times — for example, children's books. That is why I get very excited when I find the Oz books in very good condition – a true and rare find for childrens’ books!

From my personal observations of handling over 60 copies of scarce title Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I can say that about 40% of them are found without spines and are in poor condition, 30% are in fair condition with plates and pages missing, 10% are in good condition with some flaws, another 10% already have been rebounded and only the remaining 10% fall into a category that can be described as being in very good or better condition.

Supply. As baby boomers are retiring and have more time to both read and collect, I have noticed a surge of renewed interest in the Wizard of Oz books. While very few of us can go out and purchase an original copy of Wonderful Wizard of Oz, there are still ways to build an impressive collection of books whose value could grow - or even skyrocket - over time. One thing to remember is that over a period of time, the number of available copies diminishes. I certainly noticed that trend with Oz books. Oz books fall into the category of desirable copies and as can be noticed from a few examples below, some of them are not even available for sale at Abebooks amongst 110 million antiquarian books listed by over 14,000 book dealers.

1. There is only one copy of 1st edition, 1st state copy of Wonderful Wizard of Oz in B binding that is complete with all necessary 1st state points and plates. This copy is listed for $100,000. There is no single copy listed of rare 2nd edition, 1st state copy of Wizard of Oz.

2. There are no copies of 1st edition, 1st state of Marvelous Land of Oz available for sale.

3. There are no copies of any Oz books available with first edition Reilly & Britton dust jacket (books printed before 1919).

4.Out of 10 various Oz titles printed from 1921 to 1930 by Ruth Thompson there are only two copies with 1st edition dust jackets listed.

5. There are only a few first edition Oz books in first edition dust jackets from 30s and 40s. For example, although Abebooks search indicates that there are five books with DJ for Handy Mandy (c.1937), only one title is in true first edition dust jacket and is listed for $862.

Other Factors.

• Unless a later book became a huge seller, an author's first book will always be the most valuable. This is typically because a first book is usually released with a small first print run.

• Signed copies will always be worth more than unsigned copies

• Old books that have something to say and look good will appreciate in value. Period. And the reason is that publishers can't afford to print books profitably any more - so all the books in print are irreplaceable. Finally, there is really no way to "know" which books value will increase over time, any more that there is a way to know that a particular stock will rise or fall. But just like the stock market,you can improve your chances of success with a little research. Age and condition can certainly play a part in a books value, but a book is only worth as much as someone else is willing to pay for it. Some books might eventually become scarce and hard to find, especially if there weren't that many copies made in the first place, or they might be old and in very good condition for their age. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that these books will be in demand.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz title is for sure in demand. Someone wanted it enough badly enough to pay recently over $3000, including commissions, at the New Orleans auction for the book that was 1st edition, 2nd state with missing plates, and was falling apart.

Many collectors purchase their books from a wide variety of sources and limit their purchases to expenditures they can afford; often making purchases in the $10 to $100 range, occasionally more for a scarce or very desirable item. There are also many items available for those who can afford to spend hundreds or thousands on a single volume. References, and bibliographies in particular, are the tools of a book collector. References are so important that you will find, with few exceptions, that the information you gain more than pays for the "investment" in useful references.

Everyone has heard of the astronomical prices that some books command today, from first editions of Wonderful Wizard of Oz to signed copies of the Harry Potter books. No one has the crystal ball; however, the bottom line is that collecting books is both challenging and fun. It provides a safe and secure investment in these turbulent economic times, and if you are smart, persistent, and patient, the books value will appreciate over time.



Return from this Books Value article page to Oz Newsletter page

Return from this Books Value article page to Oz home page