I love browsing eBay for antique books. I look at the list of antique books on auction and look at the most expensive ones first. Definitely not because I can afford any of these but because it’s fun to see how much books are worth. Right now, there is a 1st edition author signed copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on sale (Buy Now) for $63,750. I’d love to see who ends up buying this – if anyone does buy it, that is.
I love, love, love Jane Austen. I LOVE Jane Austen. And looking at pictures of her books printed in 1890s with their beautiful illustrations, I can’t help but almost drool over them. This makes me wonder, if I had the money, would I pay $28,250 for a 3-volume 1st edition of Emma? How much money do I need to have saved in my savings account, retirement fund and my boy’s college savings fund to feel like “Yes, I can spend $28,250 for Jane Austen.” How much money would I have to donate to charities that I support to feel like this money could basically go sit on my bookshelf? Maybe some see it as a kind of investment.
I’m not knocking people who buy these lovely old books – I love these books too and I’m envious of people who have such lovely pieces of history sitting on their bookshelves. But it just makes me wonder about the life of a book, who comes to own them, how much money is circulated during the life of a book, and what determines the value and the cost of a book.
I guess the same sorts of questions could be raised about the $60 I spent for a set of Boswell’s Life of Johnson (printed 1859) many years ago. (I’m hoping one day Boswell’s Life of Johnson will pay for my son’s college.) And I’ve seriously contemplated spending $149 for a 1894 copy of 2-volume Pride and Prejudice. If it were near my birthday or Christmas, I might ask my husband to put this on my gift list but it is July and nothing special is coming up. Darn it.
So… I suppose it’s all relative – as I’m sure there is someone saying “Oh my goodness. You’d spend $149 on a book?!”