Two collectors — one who collects first editions and one who was just thrifting — reaped unexpected rewards. It’s nearly impossible to predict a worldwide phenomenon, but a dash of disappointment and a sprinkling of a collector’s instinct paid off for a 68-year-old paper merchant director from England. His hobby is collecting first-edition books. In 1997, he paid $16.94 to pre-order one of only 500 first editions of  the book “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling. He almost threw it out when it arrived without a dust cover and what he considered “poor quality” pages. “I decided to keep the book on the toss of a coin. It was a moment of destiny,” he said. Because of its quality, he refused to let his daughter read it. He also kept it out of sunlight for 25 years.

Another collector was at a charity shop last November and liked the wizard on the back of a worn and doodled “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” So, he purchased it for 75 cents.

Both books sold at a Hansons auction in the United Kingdom in March. The pristine copy brought about $90,000 and the tattered copy brought about $20,000.  Not bad for either collector!

If you are thinking of collecting first edition books, remember to do your research. The key points in determining a book’s value are condition, scarcity, content, nostalgia, and beauty. First editions of J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books, and some by Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut are hot. First editions are sought-after because the printings of first editions are smaller in quantity than later printings, when the books are gaining popularity. First editions are valued because they are like “getting close to the birth of a book.”

harry potter and the philosophers stone book cover

Photo: Bloomsbury


One response to “Worn or Pristine “Harry Potter” Books Bring Tens of Thousands”

  1. Dahlia17 says:

    There is a term used in this sentence above, “sniff books by Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut are hot”. Is “sniff books” a typo, if not what is it referring to?
    Thank you,

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