Where to Find Collectible Oz Books?

While browsing the inventory of my Oz books on this website, many of you may wonder, especially those who are not familiar with the specifics of rare books' complexity, pricing and market, if you should first do some comparative shopping. By all means! I would like, however, to offer you some of my observations regarding the usual sources for such research, such as bookstores, auction houses, craigslist and ebay.

As I outlined in my home page, chances of finding first or early editions of any Oz book in bookstores are very small. When I travel anywhere, I always make sure that I visit the local bookstores for Oz books. So far, however, I have had a very limited success in finding anything valuable there.

I have had better luck finding Oz books using search engines, such as abebooks. While it is a good site, it can be quite overwhelming. In addition, the chances of a seller providing accurate pictures of quite valuable books are not always great. I am usually happy if I can get one photo of a book, and that is only if the seller has the capacity to send either a scanned or digital image. I am lucky if I can get a phone number, which enables me to spend time talking to a bookseller and inquire about the book condition (spine, hinges, coloring, tears, edition, color plates, dust jacket, etc).

Even if you are willing to perform all that due diligence work yourself, you will be surprised at the range of the Oz books prices. Almost identical books can be listed anywhere between $100 to $2000. Why is there such a big difference in price? Well, mostly because of the condition and scarcity of the particular Oz title. I spend countless hours sending emails, asking questions, asking for photos, additional information, etc. The book becomes a part of my inventory only if and when I am of an opinion that the book is undervalued and that there is demand for that specific title.

The chances of finding collectible Oz books at the auction houses are also very slim. Unless you know that a particular auction house will be selling Oz books, I would not recommend visiting any of them with just a hope of finding any collectible Oz titles. Some of the auction houses advertise through ebay live auction and you might bid using ebay’s system, but you should expect to pay around 22% above selling price in various auction and ebay fees.

Using a craigslist is another option, but you are limited to searches in your geographic area, and it might take you a very long time before you will find one listing in your area.

Ebay is a place where you can find many Oz books, and many of them will be advertised as 1st editions due to the copyright year (as mentioned in my info section). Since most vintage Oz books are listed as 1st editions, many bidders are overpaying for Oz books. There is a small chance that you can buy collectible Oz books on ebay for less than what I am offering them for, but in any event, you will not get them cheap. The main reason for that is that a few Oz dealers — including me — know the values of antique Oz books and will not pass an opportunity to own collectible titles. Also, it is my practice if I buy the Oz book on ebay, to carefully inspect it, perform minor repairs, if needed, taking up to 20 photos of each part of the book, to describe it accurately on this website, etc. It all takes time and effort and obviously adds to the final cost of the book.

It should also be noted that ebay most likely is not a right place for the novice collector. I have had instances in the beginning of my practice where the seller sent me the wrong book (different edition), the books that I received had fake color plates, or once a seller even demanded additional funds after selling me a book!

I have many customers who are buying books from me on the ongoing basis. Sometimes, they see the book on ebay and ask for my advice before bidding on it. It should be noted that sometimes on ebay, the seller makes a listing private, and there is no way for me to inform my customer about a specific purchase because I can not ask the seller for additional information.

I have had quite a few customers who were not happy with their ebay purchases. The following is an email from one of my customers who bought a book from someone else on ebay: “That ebay seller S*******e is not above board. I always wondered why he purchased damaged Oz books on ebay; now I know it appears to me either he is a mediocre conservator or he has someone on the side. The Marvelous Land of Oz, 1st edition I bought was obviously glued back together with pages from several books. It certainly was not described that way but when I got it, it became obvious what it was. It is being returned. I'd suggest avoiding this guy. He sounds like a slick one in his e-mails as well. Think I may just save my pennies and buy a nice one from you that I can touch beforehand.”

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