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Re: Signed 1968 UK Paperback LOTR
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The hundred signed paperbacks did not all go to Allen & Unwin personnel or their families. See Chronology, p. 729, for 18 July 1968: 'The paperback will be published in October, and the Allen & Unwin sales department have suggested that, to build up substantial initial sales, booksellers who pre-order one hundred or more copies should get an extra free copy signed by Tolkien.' Otherwise, Tolkien did occasionally sign copies for Allen & Unwin staff. In April 1972, Tolkien asked to meet the publisher's staff at Museum Street in London and at their warehouses/sales offices in Hemel Hempstead to thank them for having sent a three-foot-high card for his 80th birthday (and let us not forget that tomorrow, or today already in some places, the 3rd, is his 119th). He went to London on 27 June, and to Hemel Hempstead on 14 July. During the latter visit, he signed copies of his books for staff members (Chronology, p. 765). Afterward, he autographed an interoffice memo for the driver who returned him to Oxford (this turned up on eBay last March).

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2011/1/2 19:46


Re: Super Deluxe values
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Yes Jeremy, but still there is a difference with houses and books; where a house that stays up for sale will eventually drop in price, since it stays to long on the market. It is not so with rare books at all.

For example signed books... if you have some good database of sales you can see a good increase in value on a yearly basis. Two years ago it was a bit lower, this year it was better. There are people who invest in rare books because of that, since it will bring in more money then putting money in a bankaccount. Buying a house also means that the older the house gets, the bigger the chance is you need to repair things, you have a monthly cost as well, which is completely minimal in the case of storing quality rare books. And as far as I know (with some exceptions) rare books tend to become more expensive over time.

So for me the house theme is completely different from the rare book theme. Ebay is indeed a short window of space - sometimes price go up higher then they should, most of the time they don't show the real value of an item - abebooks in general is a place where prices tend to be on the high side, mainly because listing costs are quit heavy.

I'll explain how I feel about collecting. Book collecting is taking care of an item that will stay with you for a limited time. Normally a rare book will for sure live much longer then you will live. So you can treasure the items and take care for them for a while. Secondly I believe all collectors are enough interested in their items so that some kind of research is always done on the items. Someone who buys to put items in the collection and re-sell them in 10 years time is for me an 'investor' and not a collector.

So, here are mainly collectors, and that makes it difficult to discuss 'value' since for collectors any value is possible for a rare and unique item. For them - the honor to treasure the item - can cost up to the amount they have on their bankaccount. That is how crazy it can get.
Now when you talk with investors there is no room for that kind of behavior. Prices are set out of experience of the market, the value of items sold in the past, demand, etc , etc... it is like asking Google how they set their search results. 250 factors combined and you get a good answer.

So yes, Jeremy is right, when you have time someone will buy it at any price. That is especially so for collectors. But in rare book sales we don't depend on collectors (how many are there? that would be a bad business model!) but mostly on investors. Of 100 books I sell, 50 are never listed online and 40 are sold the day they arrive here... it is all about demand - will always buy in what I know that will be selling - will always look for quality - only real quality will sell to investors - and will always look at a great investment opportunity for the client. The moment I would go asking extreme prices I kill my own business. So there you have it. It has nothing to do with houses... where if the house has the right view it will sell. No it is about quality and the better the item (depending on 250 variables) the more expensive it will be!

Posted on: 2011/1/2 13:39


Re: Super Deluxe values
Shirrif
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I agree with all of that Jeremy!

BH

Posted on: 2011/1/2 10:52
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Re: Super Deluxe values
Thain
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The house example is a good one to spend a little more time on, I think.

In your example a homeowner said "I have a million dollar house" and the professor says "show me someone who will pay you a million dollars"...

If I put my house on auction today, for seven days, for the highest bidder, I will get X dollars. If I put my house on the "market" and I am willing to wait for the right buyer, I will get Y dollars.

No-one can tell me what X and Y are specifically, but experts can certainly give me a reasonable range for each of X and Y, and I can guarantee you that Y is higher than X except in ridiculously spurious conditions. This is why people do not sell houses at auction unless there are serious time considerations (bank forclosure, etc.)

The same applies to rare books - if you wait for the right buyer, you will pretty much always realize a higher price than if you have a very time limited auction. The conditions (bidder frenzy) that cause auctions to go above "market price" are pretty much ignorable, from a statistical point of view.

Thus, when considering rare art, rare book collecting, antiques, etc. you will almost always see dealers buying at auction, then pricing the item and eventually finding a buyer (and making a profit). Compare this to the number of times you see a dealer buy something at fixed price (on the open market) and taking it to an auction house to realize a profit.

It is all about finding the right buyer. For an eBay auction, you have seven days to find the two people* who really want your book the most in the whole wide world. That is an incredibly short window of time to make sure your book gets marketed and discovered by all/most of the people who might be interested in it. If you have the patience to wait, you will have much better odds at finding the right buyer and getting a better price.


*As others have already pointed out, the realized price at auction is one bid above what the second-most-desperate person was willing to pay.

Posted on: 2011/1/2 10:33
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Re: Super Deluxe values
Shirrif
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Beren, nice points, but...

In the case of a house, the estimate given by an 'expert' (a surveyor in the UK, or perhaps an estate agent) is simply based on the market at that time. It is really just a comparison of your house (i.e. its condition, & possibly some other factors) to similar houses; invariably the same style of house, in the same area --& taking into account historical sales & (more importantly) recent sales.

The surveyor doesn't just pluck a number out of thin air. Yes, they may base some aspect of the value on prediction (e.g. the surveyor believes that prices are, despite the downturn, holding up well --even this is drawing largely on knowledge & experience), but most is simply comparison.

So, to disagree with alpingloin, & agree with yourself, provided the 'expert' is indeed an expert, & the estimate is a good one, a "million dollar house" really should realise about this price --unless conditions are highly fluctuant, or unpredictable.

However, you state: when it comes to selling books at their true value that is a completely different issue.; & when it comes to books, especially expensive ones it all comes to finding a buyer - timing is probably everything.

How is selling a house & a book any different? With house selling surely "finding a buyer" & "timing" are just the same as in book selling? I fail to see how the two markets differ markedly or what marks out book selling as so unique.

You also state: ebay and abebooks are very bad parameters to find out the value of a book. Only rarity, state of the book and demand can tell us the real value. So what market should we gauge price, or price range from? You seem to be alluding to some 'true' value that items should carry, but which isn't readily available or known.

(Explain yourself! )

My real disagreement with the market will reveal the value model is simply this: if a book fails to sell at auction, this does not, in my opinion, mean it is literally worthless; either generally, or at the time of the auction. Therefore the market does not (always) determine value/worth.

Ultimately, I agree with your value range model alpingloin. (Your collecting method is imminently sensible too!). I don't think anyone thinks a single value can possibly be applied to a given item. And laurel, how right you are about prices. If 'true' values were revealed, we would have no underpaying, or overpaying --& frankly no book market (in its present form) at all. That would be no fun indeed...

BH

Posted on: 2011/1/2 10:20
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You drive a hard bargain – you can have it for £10 all-in – one consolation (for you) is that you do not have to hear the cries of my children, for bread...



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