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Re: Collecting and sales
Just can't stay away
2013/8/1 13:01
Posts: 79
This is a phenomenon that seems to be happening all over the world. I collect books in Spanish (Argentina, Uruguay) and Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal). In Argentina and Brazil, antique bookstores seem to be out of touch with prices and increased simply because of the movies.

It's strange that during the heyday of hobbit movies, prices remained reasonable. And last year and this year the books seem to be being bought and I hardly find old books.

Eduardo O. F.

Posted on: 1/3 1:15:19

Re: Collecting and sales
2006/5/26 20:36
From Oregon, USA
Posts: 1508
Hi Wayne and Christina,

here are some of my initial thoughts on the market:

* The market has definitely crashed on the demand side - it ramped up tremendously during the LOTR trilogy of movies, held a bit for a few years, and then has mostly dried up. There are a handful of new collectors each year that seem to be in the hobby for the long haul, but for the most part the market seems to have returned to the normal sedate pace from prior to the movies.
* I think that book rarities are still holding strong prices (down from quite eye-watering peaks though) as there is still demand, with new collectors replacing others who give up, or pass on. These aren't showing up on the market very often any more though, as it seems that the exposure drew out a lot of supply that has since gone back to long term storage/shelves again. For example, I saw probably a copy per month of "Oxford Poetry 1915" for a year or two during the peak movie madness. Now, maybe one copy every two years goes up for sale.
* Non-rare books are in plentiful supply, but sellers don't seem to be willing to lower their prices. It is pretty common with the online listings for them to sit unsold if listed for too high a price for the market, so if you do a scan on ABEBooks (for example), those are the copies you see. If you are a new seller, you price yours in a similar fashion, and it takes a long time for those false indicators to get delisted, repriced, or (rarely) sold. So it takes a really long time for the listings for sale to adjust.
* as a buyer, there is no harm in asking if the seller's price is firm! Just be polite, and don't be offended if it is.
* There have been a (very small) handful of collectors in the past decade or so who wanted a lot of stuff, and were willing to pay asking prices rather than wait to see if a better deal came along later. They bought (for example) fine, signed books at auction at record setting prices, but once satisfied, further auctions have not realized similar amounts. Even for quite rare items, it seems that supply still outstrips demand now, when the asking price is set by prior sale results.
* Coming off that last point, some odd ephemeral items have been bought/sold since the movies (Tolkien's Gown comes to mind) and with that, there have been some real strange offers made to see if the same market will bite twice ("Tolkien's fireplace" comes to mind). I am not commenting at all on the taste or budget of any collectors - just that a lot of very tenuously connected stuff has been offered for sale because of the hype and some unusual past sales.
* Forgeries (known and prosecuted, and still unexposed) are prevalent in the market now, and probably will be from now on. High quality scans of valid signatures are forever available online from auction records or even social media as people share their finds/purchases. This is not a problem for just Tolkien, but all autograph markets. Provenance and large sample size (a few sentences rather than just the name) are extremely critical for having some confidence, as well as buying from a source that has a strong policy for supporting the buyer if the item later turns out to be a forgery.

I don't think that it is possible to be a completist any more, especially given all the variants as you mention in your original request. Perhaps you (W&C) are able to keep up, but I assume there is a line drawn somewhere? All variants of all foreign editions? Even just keeping up with HarperCollins every time they change a movie-related cover art or up the price a tiny bit due to inflation, etc. is an immense challenge (that I don't take up, myself). It seems, mostly through my exposure here to all you fine collectors, that everyone has a very specific area of focus.

For your last question (how has the face of Tolkien collecting changed), I think it has significantly, but I am running out of time to keep up. I will hopefully have more time later today to continue, as I think this is quite interesting to discuss and see what everyone else thinks too.

Posted on: 1/3 12:06:39
- Jeremy

Re: Collecting and sales
2008/8/10 2:07
Posts: 1385
I'd second pretty much everything Urulöké has written.

I see a very slow market where sellers haven't yet accepted that prices have essentially collapsed and there are simply very few active buyers. No one is in any hurry to sell (so asking prices often have not adjusted) and no one is in any hurry to buy, so items are not selling unless the seller has adjusted the price accordingly. I can't see much changing, other than sellers will gradually reduce asking prices and more books will start to come back onto the market. Without new movies, there probably won't be a resurgence in collecting interest to the level we saw in the early-mid 2000s.

Overall, I see this as a positive. We will eventually return to a sane and balanced market and it will cease to be driven by hype and the desire to make a fast buck.

Posted on: 1/7 1:39:20

Re: Collecting and sales
Quite a regular
2009/2/2 21:23
Posts: 53
I almost exclusively collect US (American) published works of Tolkien so my comments are in that context.

In general it seems like there is both less available in used bookshops and eBay and what is available is more expensive than it was maybe 5 years ago. It seems like alot of material was brought to market at the peak of the hype from the movies but now lots of books are in people's collections and not being sold as much they used to be.

Posted on: 1/21 20:13:35

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