I was sorting out my shelves recently and found my old copy of Ghastly Beyond Belief, a mid 80’s paperback anthology of bad SF quotes which was edited by one Neil Gaiman: it was his first ever book, apparently only ever ran to one edition, and copies are currently selling for over $US200. I had no idea it was worth anything to anyone.
I’ve got two first edition James Bond novels, sans dust jacket. I haven’t a clue if they’re worth anything. One of them is Live And Let Die. My mother bought it for 50p. Some first or only edition books on Irish history that my dad claimed are worth a few bob but I can’t think of the titles.
Quite a few. I buy books by my favorite authors as soon as they come out, so ending up with a first edition is easy. They don’t seem to increase in value though. I do have the first trade edition of The Gunslinger, which is worth a few hundred bucks. I paid $50 for it, back in 1986 or thereabouts.
I don’t know if I have any really old first editions. When did publishers start noting editions anyway? Some of my older stuff just has a publication date – no ISBN and no 10 9 8 7 6 etc. numbers.
Among the books i left behind in Australia (when i moved to the US) is a First Edition of Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tools. It’s in my parents’ house somewhere.
It’s not in fantastic condition, and is missing the dust jacket. I bought it mainly because i love the book, and was also in a phase where i was doing a lot of reading about the Spanish Civil War. I picked it up in a second-hand bookstore in Vancouver, and it cost me $CA40 in 1993.
Looking online now, i’ve found a few copies that seem to be in similar condition to mine, with asking prices ranging from $120 to $950. I think the latter might be a bit optimistic.
I’m not sure that a missing dust jacket would be a deal-breaker for a book that special. I read somewhere that people used to throw them away because they had advertising on them and made their libraries look “cheap”.
I own the following autographed true first editions (first printing of the first edition):
Adams, Ansel: Ansel Adams
Asimov, Isaac: Of Matters Great and Small
Beagle, Taflin, Lauer: The Pogopedia
Christopher, Milbourne: *Houdini *
Dennett, Daniel C.: Breaking the Spell
Dietz, Thomas, photos by Eric Long (both signed): On Miniature Wings
Falk, John (signer) and Beverly K. Sheppard: Thriving in the Knowledge Age
Gell-Mann, Murray: *The Quark and the Jaguar *
Glaser, Milton: Graphic Design
Groves, Gen. Leslie: Now It Can Be Told
Harlin III, John: The Eiger Obsession
Herken, Gregg: Cardinal Choices
Hyder, William: From Baltimore to Baker Street
Kelly, Walt: Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years of Pogo
Leizman, Jon: *Let’s Kill ’Em *
Lopez, Don: Fighter Pilot’s Heaven
Okrand, Mark: The Klingon Dictionary
Paulos, John Allen: Beyond Numeracy
Randi, James: An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
Reppert, Ralph: Ralph Reppert and His Electric Wife
Rhodes, Richard: The Making of the Atomic Bomb
Schatzkin, Paul: The Boy Who Invented Television
Shepard, Alan (signer) and Deke Slayton: *Moon Shot *
Smith, J. Winfree: A Search for the Liberal College
Szanton, Andrew: *The Recollections of Eugene Wigner *
Vonnegut, Kurt: Galapagos
Woods, Jesse (signer) and Ann L. Cooper: On The Wing
Wright, John C.: *The Golden Age *
Wright, John C.: The Last Guardian of Everness
Wright, John C.: The Orphans of Chaos
Yeager, Jeana and Dick Rutan (both signed): *Voyager *
plus the following autographed first editions that are 2nd or later printings:
Andretti, Mario: Andretti
Herken, Gregg: The Winning Weapon
Heyerdahl, Thor: Kon-Tiki Man
Jillette, Penn and Teller (both signed): How to Play with Your Food
Lederer, Richard: Crazy English
Morrison, Philip and Phylis (both signed): The Ring of Truth
Stenger, Victor: God: The Failed Hypothesis
Stoll, Clifford: The Cuckoo’s Egg
Stoessinger, John: Henry Kissinger: The Anguish of Power
Wolfram, Stephen: A New Kind of Science
I also have the following autographed, but undistinguished editions:
Fuller, Buckminster: Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
Keillor, Garrison: The Book of Guys
Lovell, Jim and Jeffrey Kluger (both signed): *Apollo 13 *
Plait, Philip: *Bad Astronomy *
Sagan, Carl: The Dragons of Eden
Shepherd, Jean: Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters
Yeager, Chuck: *Yeager, an Autobiography *
Zimmerman, Keith and Kent, with Jamie Hyneman (signer), Adam Savage (signer), and Peter Rees: *Mythbusters *
I met most of these authors and got their autographs personally. Most of those names you don’t recognize are friends, colleagues, or in one case, a relative.
The pride of my collection is First on the Moon, written and signed by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on the 20th anniversary of the moon landing. It’s a book club edition, unfortunately, but I think it will be pretty valuable some day, because I’d wager that the number of items signed by all three is relatively small.
I probably also have a bunch of unsigned first editions, but I haven’t catalogued them. Nothing incredibly rare or distinguished, AFAIK.
A cheap paperback 1st Edition of Neal Stephenson’s The Big U - which he graciously signed when I saw him at a reading for The System of The World (which he also signed ).
Which makes the ones with dust jackets worth 10-100 times as much.
I probably have a couple of thousand first hardback editions. Some are true collectibles but the majority, well, most books don’t have anything other than first editions.
Or as Alexander Woollcott, the smuggest member of the Algonquin Group, once sang of himself, showing off his new book, “O what is so rare as a Woollcott first edition?”
And Franklin P. Adams retorted, “A Woollcott second edition.”
I do have Ghastly Beyond Belief, which I bought new just to have. I have a few others similar books that nobody but a used book expert would recognize as collectable and valuable. They would be a heck of a lot more valuable if they didn’t look so, um, well-read.
I’ve got a signed first run copy of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish which is very cool. It has a groovy sticker on the front dust jacket - I want to cal it a hologram but it’s not . It’s one of those thick plastic things with quite thick horizontal lines. When you look at it one way the picture is one thing, then you tilt it and it’s another. I assume those things have a name?
The best thing about it is that my dad nicked off work early and went to a Douglas Adams’ book signing one day to surprise me. He was always doing things like that.
Possibly the only edition, with a title like that.
I also have an August 1928 Amazing Stories issue, about which I’ve posted before, but my favourite is a first edition Flashman: the only series I deliberately set out to acquire in firsts, due to my extreme love of the books.
I’ve got a random handful of not teriffically valuable ones. I bought The Silmarillion when it first came out in hardcover – anticipated it, even. Jack Chalker’s An Informal Biography od Scrooge McDuck. Arthur C. Clarke’s The Exploration of Space.
The only first edition I’d ever scored that was noteworthy was a first edition of Larry Niven’s Ringworld. In absolute mint condition.
This edition was noteworthy for having been recalled shortly after it’s release. Somehow, it got through all the proof-reading steps without anyone realizing that the author had the Earth rotating in the wrong direction. So, of the original ~5000 copies about 2/3 were reclaimed by the publisher and destroyed.
I couldn’t keep it - I was too broke at the time to afford to keep it myself. But I did manage to turn a $1 purchase into a $100 sale.
My wife has a first edition of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Miss Moppet - not in very good condition though - unfortunately - inside the cover, it has my mother-in-law’s name written in fountain pen, crossed through in pencil, with my wife’s name written alongside, crossed through in blue felt tip marker, along with my daughter’s name.
Those are called “lenticular pictures.”
Back on topic, I’ve had several first editions of varying “importance” and collectibility pass through my stewardship, but I don’t attach much value to them personally and sell them when I find them.
Men From Earth, autographed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., hisself. It’s NOT for sale.
Sex, by Madonna and others. Pristine condition, metal cover, Mylar® wrapping, CD and all. Make me an offer. A big one, I need the money.
As commasense points out, there are first editions and first editions and first editions. And there are specially-printed limited first editions, etc. I’ve completely lost track of what truly constitutes the rare special first edition. I’ve got a bunch of signed first editions, none of them rare, I’m sure, and probably not true first-run, first-printing first editions anyway. They’re signed by authors like Atwood. My favorite is Airport, signed by Arthur Hailey, who always put a little smiley face in the y of his name. I believe I saw signed first editions of this novel going for $7.00 or less on Amazon.
I have three or four Stephen King firsts, two of which are limited editions.
I also have Running Man. (Bachman)
I have two by Shirley Jackson and one by Robert Bloch. all three are anthologies, so I’m not sure that they count.
The dj is especially important on Hemingway’s FWtBT’s because there were two “states” of it: the first state which lacked a photo credit on the back panel for the photo of Hem; and the second state, which corrects the error. There were about 75,000 copies of the first edition of that book - for the longest time, it carried little value even though it is respected late Hemingway (along with Old Man and the Sea) because there were so many copies. The 1st Ed, 1st State was the only one that had any value. That is changing now that the copies are getting a bit harder to find.
As you may have guessed, I collect - really, used to collect - first editions. I have sold some of my best stuff, including Firsts of the Winnie the Pooh series, Catcher in the Rye, Hound of the Baskervilles, As I Lay Dying (twice), A Farewell to Arms, Some Fitzgerald short stories, Slaughterhouse 5, Brave New World, Huck Finn, the Foundation Trilogy and countless others. We needed the money to fund work on the house and I did well on the investments.
Fortunately, I still have some of my favorites, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Babbitt, Native Son, Cannery Row, Catch-22, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Philadelphia Story (the play), Shogun, Dune, Snow Crash (signed), a run of signed Elmore Leonards, Ball Four, and a bunch of others.
Collecting firsts has been fun…
I have a copy of the 1st edition of the Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification, published in 1894, which is pretty hard to get hold of. However, I’m even more proud of my copy of the 2nd edition of the full Dewey Decimal Classification, published in 1885, since it’s much rarer than the 1st edition (which I don’t have unfortunately), and since it was the cedition with most changes and additions from the previous one. And I have most of the later editions of DDC – I’ve got a picture of them at http://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/423936278/
I’ve got a first edition of the Watchmen graphic novel. It’s is decent but not spectacular condition. I got a later printing for reading so I would stop putting wear on the original.