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Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books

Subject: Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
by Beren on 2010/8/17 4:13:19

I'm following this discussion for some time now and I find it a strange discussion all together. Ebay is 'no' guideline to find any value... one day something will be sold, but stay unsold for the coming months. Sometimes items are in demand, sometimes they are not. The value of Tolkien books moves up and down as demand for particular books goes up or down. Ebay is a crazy place and strange things happen there.

Abebooks could be another source to find the value of a book, but you need to know the sellers, some list to sell fast, some list to wait for the one crazy person to come buy and spent the big bucks. My experience is that most abebooks tend to be too high.

I also strongly believe that the value of a book can be completely different depending on the person selling it. When you look at auctions for example, sotheby's tends to grab higher prices for items then smaller auction houses.

Specialized bookdealers like David Miller (and myself) manage to sell rare Tolkien books at prices (much) higher than abebook dealers. This is because we know who searches and have build up relations with collectors worldwide. At the other hand we sometimes drop in books at prices lower than abebooks dealers... especially the signed materials to lower the market price and keep collecting fun for everyone.

Now how do I stick a price on a book... like for example the super deluxe editions. First of all, you need to know if there is interest in a book (and that is easy for us to follow). So far I did not buy a single copy of the super deluxe Sigurd and Gudrun. There is no demand at all. I do however stock many copies of the Children of Hurin, all lower numbers, and have no intention to sell these for the next 10 years. As with the other Super Deluxe editions, this is about the time they need to create a demand. For example the Super Deluxe edition of The Silmarillion... any copy you offer me I can sell the next day. No problem there. That is what pushes up the price. High demand, higher value.

It has nothing to do with anything else really. The only true answer I read so far is that anything is only worth what one person is willing to pay for it. Only it has to be said, that also this is related to time. Today no one will pay 1000 Euro for a super deluxe Children of Hurin (however I sold 3 copies of the lowest numbers for exactly that amount already the last year), but maybe one day people will. Book dealing is a strange business there are days you can buy stuff real cheap and make some profit over time, sometimes you feel like buying something real cheap and in the end need to wait years and in the end loose money by selling it. What I have seen however is that most 'rare' books need at least 10 years before they suddenly resurface (and mostly come in groups).

The only advise I can give at the moment is that either you do like most collectors and house the books in a good place and treasure them and love them because you find them great and don't mind too much about the value.

Or you all try and sell them one day and make tons of profit, but you will need to know when to catch the train. It is logic to me that Andy managed to sell his PoMe for much more then many others; he has the true heart of a business man and knows to play the game of book dealing better then any other. Does it mean the value he managed to sell it for is now the current value? No, but it was when he sold it...
it is a complex question and as said above, it all depends on who is selling and timing is crucial.