Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Price of Admission

Rare books for sale at Worldcon
As I wandered from booth to booth in the dealers room at Worldcon, I was amazed how many bookstores were peddling their wares. In fact, the majority of the shops were either selling books, t-shirts, or jewelry.

But the first thing to attract my eye as I entered the dealers area, was a small wood case with a glass front displaying little paperback books in plastic bags. Well, I'm an old comic book collector, so I knew that clear plastic bags over old things means you are trying to protect whatever is in the bag. The older or more rare the item, the higher the price.

Interested in seeing what old books they had and how much they were going for, I stepped up to the case and perused the books. My eyes goggled...

Orgy of the Dead Selling for $450.00
These books were hundreds of dollars! The most expensive was an unsigned copy of Orgy of the Dead (Movie Now Showing... You'll notice they didn't say, 'Now A Major Motion Picture'), selling for a whopping $450.00. This really got me thinking about book prices and the value of books.
World's Most Expensive Books - Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester
Codex Leicester

With a little research I learned that, at auction, a first edition of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye can go for up to $5,000 while a signed UK edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's, The Hobbit, sold for $10,400. But neither of those can hold a candle to the $30.8 million that Microsoft founder, Bill Gates paid for Leonardo Da Vinci's Codex Leicester. Granted, the Codex Leicester was hand written by Da Vinci himself and only had a print run of... well... one.

Darkness, My Old Friend: A NovelBut what are we paying for new books? I just picked up Lisa Unger's latest release, Darkness, My Old Friend. It's selling for $13.33 on Amazon, with a suggested retail price of $24.00. On the kindle, you can pick it up for $11.99. But is it worth it? Of course it is! I've enjoyed Lisa's stories since I first picked up her fourth book, Die For You. Another one of her stories, Black Out was an intense psychological thriller while her, Fragile was just as intense. When I saw the title for her new book, I knew this one was going to be just as sweet as pie and pre-ordered it (the e-reader giveaway on her Facebook page just sweetened the deal).

Looking at all these books and the prices for them made be realize one thing. When it comes right down to it, when we really love an authors work, we'll pay almost any price to have it. For example, when I finished books one and two of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (both of which I checked out at the library), I couldn't wait for the third to become available (two month wait), so I ran out and bought it. And really, when you trust an author's work and enjoy their storytelling style, regardless of cost, you'll pay the price of admission.


  1. I almost spent 25 bucks on an old issue of Weird Tales that had the original publication of "Kaleidoscope" by Ray Bradbury. The magazine was completely thrashed, with half the cover ripped away. So, I couldn't do it. However, I was later gifted four issues of FandSF from the 60s in which DUNE was originally serialized! That's right. As far as I can tell, I own the original publication of DUNE in all 4 parts, and the magazines are in great shape. I wonder what those would go for at Worldcon. . . .

    -Shaun F

  2. Dude! That's so awesome. Those are priceless. You could probably start a bidding war at auction and a stampede at Worldcon. I'm thinking Lou Anders or Tom Doherty would be the high bidder...


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