February 10, 1998
by Dee Entrekin
In Collecting Books: The Guide to Values (1998 Edition), book authorities Allen and Patricia Ahearn tell us that "in 1987, there were probably not more than twenty twentieth- century literary first editions selling for more than $750." They go on to say that hundreds, if not thousands, sell for more than that today. Will prices continue to rise, for some as much as ten times their value a decade ago?
If the past is any indicator of the future, prices of collectable books will continue to rise, some more so than the others.
The smart book collector keeps abreast of current values and trends, whether buying, selling, or trading upward. One gets a feel for prices by regularly perusing used and collectable bookstores, and by seeking information from dealers. Most booksellers are eager to pass on to their customers helpful information. Then there are many publications that are filled with information to inform and delight the book collector.
Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine gives the collector detailed information about collectable authors and their works; tips on building, preserving, and selling collections; author price guides drawn from a wide variety of catalogue and bookstores; calendars of book fairs, signings, and auctions; reports on recent catalogs and auctions; publishers' methods of indicating first editions, and much more. The magazine's regularly featured article on points -- that which is unique to a particular first edition -- is always informative and interesting. If a collector were to subscribe to only one magazine, this would be a good choice. One year's subscription (11 issues) is $40. The address is Firsts, P.O. Box 65166, Tuscon, AZ 85728-5166.
Biblio, created for booklovers, collectors, and treasure seekers, explores all aspects of book collecting. Biblio has featured articles, a section called Forum, various departments, and columns. For example, the February edition features the architect of Victorian literature, Thomas Hardy; C-Span's book coverage; the fine press books produced by The Golden Cockerel Press; valentines from the past; cinema books about the history, craft, and personalities of American film. Reconsidering Gutenberg is this month's subject of the Forum.
In the February Biblio under Departments, Book Places spotlights four good bookstores in the United States to look for scientific books and instruments. The Collector's Corner reveals a journalist's penchant for novels about journalists. Under Milestone, Roy Meador pays homage to the centennial of Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Under Biblio University, Gene Freeman identifies the various types of book illustrations. The final Department, Postscript, features a bookish love letter from Lord Byron to Teresa Guicoioli.
Regular columns feature The Book Hunt and International Auction Report. In this Book Hunt, Nicholas A. Basbanea discusses his tour of German libraries, highlighted by his visit to the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz. The International Auction Report, edited by Ian Mckay, keeps the reader current on price trends, elaborating on books sold at exceptional prices.
Other miscellaneous sections such as bookfairs, clubs, classes, lectures, exhibitions, resources, and books on books makes Biblio worth its subscription price of $39.90. Call 800-840-3810 for information.
AB Bookman's Weekly, primarily for the book specialist, is the only weekly bookselling journal. Published since 1948, each issue contains articles, news notes, a book fair calendar, trade reviews, and display ads. The bulk of the magazine features classified books wanted and books for sale. Over thirty special issues throughout the year concentrates on specific subjects or major conferences. Although this magazine is published for the book dealer, the books for sale give the book collector another source for books, as well as price trends. One year's subscription by bulk mail is $80. For further information, call 973-772-0020.
Book Quote is a book trade bi-weekly publication for buyers and sellers of out- of-print, used, and rare books. Good articles, information about upcoming book fairs, dealers catalogs that are available, and a small section of books for sale are included in this magazine. Most of "Book Quote" is filled with books wanted. It is published by Spoon River Press, which publishes books about books. For more information, call 309-672-2665.
Dee Entrekin owns Entrekin Book Center.