Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Visit to the Thrift Store

For the most part I've given up searching through the book offerings at thrift stores. Too often I am appalled at the lack of reverence held for these objects that I, myself, hold so dear. Our Goodwill and Salvation Army stores just throw books into bins and carts with little concern for the structure of the book. Pages are ripped, covers are torn from the binding, dust jackets are thrown away. It's never a good scene. Clearly, the people who work here are not readers. (I try not to judge, but it's hard).

Still, the pull of the book bins is strong in these places.

This past week I found myself in a thrift store (run by Hospice volunteers who seemed to care, if not about the books, then about organization). I perused four aisles of books on shelves that were slightly taller than the octogenarian in charge of putting the books away. For the most part, it's what you'd expect. Lots of paperback westerns (read by people of a certain age); lots of romance novels and popular mysteries.

I was hopeful. At least here, you could see that some people had cared for their books, wrapping Book Club Editions in protective, clear wrappers. These people had been readers. They'd been excited by the stories. I had to peruse the section twice before finding a book that had been pushed behind the others: a 2007 signed third printing of John Scalzi's 5th book, The Last Colony. "Debbie! Hope you like this, John Scalzi." It makes me wonder if Debbie did like it. Publisher's Weekly did, although not as much as his previous books.

Granted, it's not a first printing, which would garner $80+, but for $1 investment, it wasn't a bad find.

I also found a 1985 copy of Isaac Asimov's Fantasy! with short stories by George R.R. Martin and Connie Willis (two authors I like). This was someone's treasure, carefully wrapped in protective demco with a tight binding. These sci-fi short story compilations always tickle me. They were printed in a hurry, with goofy fonts and no page layout. They were meant for mass production, just as Book Club Editions were, so they don't really hold much value, but I love the absolute awkwardness of these books. They speak to an eagerness of the geek genre to experience something new, exciting and imaginative.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Signed Editions from Powell's

Upcoming signed offerings from Powell's:

Jonathan Evison, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Signed Edition (Algonquin)

I really like Jonathan Evison's writing and so does Kirkus - they gave him a starred review, stating that this is an "Insightful, richly entertaining look at a woman who, very late in the game, finds that life remains full of surprises." 

This is Evison's fourth book following All About Lulu (Soft Skull Press, 2008) West of Here (Algonquin, 2011), and The Fundamentals of Caregiving (Algonquin, 2012).

Amy Stewart, Girl Waits With Gun (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Stewart is best known for her non-fiction titles (most recently, The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Bugs). This is her foray into fiction and is receiving good reviews - stars from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

Salman Rushdie, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (Random House)

Rushdie's latest offering is a twist on One Thousand and One Nights. Both Kirkus and PW give it a starred review. PW states, "In his latest novel, Rushdie (Joseph Anton) invents his own cultural narrative—one that blends elements of One Thousand and One Nights, Homeric epics, and sci-fi and action/adventure comic books. The title is a reference to the magical stretch of time that unites the book's three periods, which are actually millennia apart."

Jonathan Franzen, Purity (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Franzen's fifth novel gets a starred review from Kirkus.

If you can find a copy of his first through third novels,  The Twenty-Seventh City (1988), Strong Motion (1992), The Corrections (2001) in Fine condition for less than $50, snap 'em up. (All the better if they're signed).
Christopher Moore, Secondhand Souls

I don't really know the collectibility of Christopher Moore. I just like him. Some of his work is redundant, but I loved A Dirty Job, and Fluke, and the Bite Me series... not to mention Lamb.

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Water Knife

I highlighted this signed edition previously - Barnes & Noble was selling it with a tipped in signature page. I can't tell, based on the description, if this is from the same signed edition, or if Bacigalupi actually did a signing for Powell's.

For a larger list of their signed offerings, go here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Debut Spotlight: Dear Daughter & Dry Bones in the Valley

Buzz-worthy debut novel: Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little (Viking)

Winner of the Strand Critics Award for best debut novel. Nominated for the Barry and Macavity Awards for Best First Novel, and long listed for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Starred review from Library Journal: “Little makes a thrilling debut with this gripping read. Fans of Tana French and Gillian Flynn are going to enjoy the smart narrator and the twists and turns in the case.” 

Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (July 31, 2014)
  • Language: English

  • Cover Price: $26.95

First printing: not listed*

Buzz worthy debut novel: Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (W.W. Norton)

Winner of the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author. Winner of the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. Nominated for Macavity Award for Best First Novel and Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel. Long listed for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Publishers Weekly & Kirkus starred reviews.

Book description: "The lone police officer in a rural Northern Pennsylvania town finds trouble on the heels of the gas drilling, which has brought money, crime and heroin and meth into the territory and must investigate a murder that tears at old wounds."

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 7, 2014)

  • Cover price: $24.95

First printing: 13,000 [Strand Books]

Note: I found one signed copy listing for $150.

The other Strand Critics Nominees: 

The Home Place by Carrie La Seur (William Morrow) 

First printing: 100,000 [Publishers Weekly]

Ice Shear by M.P. Cooley (William Morrow)

Nominated for a Barry Award for Best First Novel.

Publishers Weekly starred review

First printing: 50,000 [Baker & Taylor]

Confessions by Kanae Minato and translated by Stephen Snyder (Mulholland Books)

One of Wall Street Journal's Favorite Mysteries of 2014, Publishers Weekly starred review.

First printing: not listed*

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (Mira) - Publishers Weekly starred review.

First printing: 35,000 [Publishers Weekly]

And just as a side note: title links lead to pages. I do not receive revenue from Amazon for any links posted, click-through traffic, or products purchased. Links are provided for information purposes only.

* I will update first printing data, should new information arise.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Man Booker Long List Out Today

The 13-book longlist for the £50,000 (about $78,054) Man Booker Prize, announced today, consists of:

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (U.S.)
The Green Road by Anne Enright (Ireland)
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Jamaica)
The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami (U.S.)
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (U.K.)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria),
The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan (U.K.)
Lila by Marilynne Robinson (U.S.)
Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy (India)
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (U.K.)
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (New Zealand)
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (U.S.)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (U.S.)

The Man Booker Prize shortlist will be unveiled September 15 and the winner will be announced on October 13.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How Much is That Harry Potter in the Window? (pt. 3)

U.S. editions

In part one of this series, I talked a little about the U.K. editions, in this post we'll focus more on the U.S. editions.

It took the U.S. a year to jump on the popularity wagon with J.K. Rowling's children's fantasy (as yet to be) series, but once we did, we were all hooked and clamoring for more.

First print run numbers listed below come from Advanced Reading jacket copies as well as publishers reports. Prices below are the range found at, at the time of this writing, for First Edition / First Print copies listed in Very Good to Fine condition.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
Published: September 1, 1998
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic
# of pages: 309
Size: 8vo
First print run: 30,000

Unsigned: $350 - $1,500

Signed: $2,500 to $7,500

Orig. price: $16.95 
Copyright page
  • Displays the full number line (1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02)
  • States “Printed in the U.S.A. 23” and “First American edition, October 1998“. 
Book boards: Purple with an embossed diamond pattern 
Spine: Red cloth with gold foil-stamped lettering; "Year 1" is NOT displayed on the spine. 
Dust Jacket: The dust jacket for this edition has several states. 
First State:  
  • Shows a price of $16.95 on the upper corner of the front flap. 
  • The dust jacket back has a cream or white isbn box with two barcodes in it. The smaller barcode has “51695“ above it. 
  • The dust jacket back has a quote from the Guardian stating, “Harry Potter could assume the near-legendary status of Ronald Dahl’s Charlie, of chocolate factory fame.” 
  • The dust jacket spine lists “J.K. ROWLING” at the head 
  • “YEAR 1″ does NOT appear on the spine
  • The gold lettering is raised on the spine of the dust jacket
Second State:
  • The quote on the back cover changes to a quote from Publishers Weekly
  • All other attributes are the same as the First State
Third State:
  • The author name on the spine is listed as just "Rowling" (the J.K. has been dropped)
  • All other attributes match that of the Second State
Fourth State:
  • "Year 1" is added to the spine
  • The price is raised to $17.95
  • The isbn box on the back cover shows "51795" over the smaller barcode box
  • The barcode box is still cream
Fifth State:
  • The isbn / barcode box on the back cover is now red.
  • All other attributes match that of the Fourth State.
Later State:
  • In later states, the price is listed as $19.95 and the isbn box on the back shows "51995."
Note: Book Club Editions (sometimes listed as BC or BCE) have a tendency to look almost identical to the trade editions. They can have the full number line and the "First Edition" statement. One difference is the book boards, which do not have an embossed diamond pattern. Additionally, the boards may be black or purple and the spine might be a different color as well. Another sign is that there won't be a second (smaller) barcode in the isbn box on the back cover. Some seller's state that the BCE is a "stated First edition" when actually what they should say is that it is a "First edition thus" (meaning it was published after the trade First edition).
Not to add to the confusion, but the 6th printing of the First trade edition is the only exception. For whatever reason, either all or part of the print run does not have embossed book boards, but it will have the 2nd, smaller barcode on the back cover. You can check out this post to gauge whether you have a book club edition or not. 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
Published: June 2, 1999
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 
# of pages: 341
Size: 8vo
First print run: 250,000

Unsigned: $280 - $900

Signed: $1,000 - $3,600

Orig. price: $17.95 
Copyright page:  
  • has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 9/9 0/0 1 2 3 4)
  • Below the number line is “Printed in the U.S.A. 37 and  “First American edition, June 1999.” 
Book boards: Blue with embossed diamond pattern 
Spine: Green cloth with silver foil-stamped lettering; "Year 2" does NOT appear on spine. 
Dust Jacket
  • No "Year 2" on the spine
  • Diagonal isbn box with 2 barcodes
  • "51795" over small barcode
The book was published by Bloomsbury in the U.K. on July 2, 1998.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year 3)
Published: September 8, 1999
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 
# of pages: 435
Size: 8vo
First print run: 500,000

Unsigned: $175 - $450 (assumed 2nd state, see note below)

Signed: $650 - $3,600 (assumed 2nd state, see note below)

Orig. price: $19.95 
Copyright page:  
  • has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 9/9 0/0 1 2 3 4) 
Book boards: Aqua colored boards with embossed diamond pattern 
Spine: Purple cloth spine with foil-stamped lettering; "Year 3" appears on the spine. (This is the first year that the "Year" badge appears on the spine)
Dust Jacket: 
  • "Year 3" appears on the spine 
  •  The isbn box on the back is red and features 2 barcodes, the smaller of which displays the numbers "51995" above it. 
  •  The back has a blurb stating, "Sequel to the #1 New York Times Bestseller HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS"
"The initial hardcover print run was stopped mid-printing after it was discovered that ‘Joanne Rowling’ rather than ‘J.K. Rowling’ had been printed on the copyright page. Joanne versions are available for prices starting at around $1,500 and go up to $12,000 for signed pristine copies. "
No one can quite agree on how many books were printed with 'Joanne Rowling,' although it's believed that the mistake was found and corrected fairly early in the run. Still, the 'Joanne' copies would be considered First State, and the 'J.K.' copies would be considered the Second State -- They're still both First Editions, and can both have the full number lines (indicating a First Printing).
There is also "a block of misaligned text on page seven (see image below)."  The image shows a line break after the word 'burnt' and an indention before the next words 'so much...'
[Resource: Mugglenet]

Prisoner of Azkaban was published first by Bloomsbury in the U.K. on July 8, 1999.
The book won the 1999 Whitbread Children's Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was short-listed for the Hugo. 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Year 4)
Published: July 8, 2000
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 
# of pages: 734
Size: 8vo
First print run: 1,000,000

Unsigned: $200 - $400

Signed: up to $4,500

Orig. price: $25.95 
Copyright page:  
  • has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  0/0 01 02 03 04)  
  • Below the number line is “Printed in the U.S.A.” with one of several possible printing plant codes including “37“,”23“, “12“, and probably others. Below that is “First American edition, July 2000.”
Book boards: Rust red with embossed diamond pattern 
Spine: Black cloth with gold foil-stamped lettering; "Year 4" appears on the spine 
Dust Jacket: 
  • "Year 4" appears on the spine 
  •  The isbn box on the back is red and features 2 barcodes, the smaller of which has the numbers "52595" above it.
Goblet of Fire was released simultaneously in the U.S. and U.K. It won the Hugo award in 2001 (the only book in the series to do so). 
At this point Rowling is signing fewer copies of her books. As a result, signed copies of Goblet of Fire tend to have a higher value. 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Year 5)
Published: June 21, 2003
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 
# of pages: 870
Size: 8vo
First print run: 6,000,000 +

Unsigned: $100 - $400

Signed: none listed

Orig. price: $29.99 
Copyright page:  
  • has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  03 04 05 06 07)  
  • Below the number line it can state either “Printed in the U.S.A. or "Printed in Mexico. 59"
  • Because this printing was so large, there are a variety of printing codes that could appear on the copyright page next to the "Printed in the U.S.A." statement, including “55“,”56“, “57“, or “58“. 
  • Below that is “First American edition, July 2003.”
Book boards: Blue with embossed diamond pattern. 
Spine: Gray cloth spine with blue foil-stamped lettering; "Year 5" appears on the spine. 
Dust Jacket: 
  • The isbn box on the back is red and features 2 barcodes, the smaller of which has the numbers "52999" above it. 
  •  "Year 5" appears on the spine.
The Order of the Phoenix was published simultaneously in the U.S. (Scholastic), U.K. (Bloomsbury), and Canada (Raincoast). 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (Year 6)
Published: July 16, 2005
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 
# of pages: 652
Size: 8vo
First print run: 10.8 million

Unsigned: $100 - $300

Signed: up to $4,800

Orig. price: $29.99 
Copyright page:  
  • has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  05 06 07 08 09)  
  • Below the number line is the “Printed in the U.S.A.” (or "Printed in Mexico") statement followed by a variety of printing codes including, but not limited to: “58“,”23“, “12." Below that is stated, “First American edition, July 2005.”
Book boards: Purple with an embossed diamond pattern
Spine: Black cloth with purple foil-stamped lettering; "Year 6" appears on the spine
Dust Jacket: 
  • "Year 6" appears on the spine 
  • The isbn box on the back is orange and features 2 barcodes, the smaller of which has the numbers "52999" above it. 
Half-Blood Prince was published simultaneously in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It sold 9 million copies worldwide in the first 24 hours it was on sale (6.9 million in the U.S. alone). This prompted Scholastic to rush another 2.9 million copies into print.
At this point, Rowling isn't doing any book signing tours. What few signed editions there are were thanks, primarily to the publisher. Because it was a rarity and even though there was such a large printing, signed copies of First / Firsts for this title are considered quite valuable. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Year 7)
Published: July 21, 2007
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine / Scholastic, 
# of pages: 759
Size: 8vo
First print run: 12,000,000

Unsigned: $75 - $300

Signed: $2,750 - $5,500

Orig. price: $34.99 
Copyright page:  
  • has the full number line (10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  07 08 09 10 11)  
  • Below the number line is the statement “Printed in the U.S.A.” (or "Printed in Mexico") followed by a variety of printing codes including, but not limited to: “55“,”12“. Below that it states, “First edition, July 2007.Note of interest: some first printings have a statement regarding the paper used in the printings - it doesn't have any effect on the value.
Book boards: Green with embossed diamond pattern.
Spine: Yellow cloth with red foil-stamped lettering; "Year 7" appears on the spine.
Dust Jacket: 
  • "Year 7" appears on the spine.
  • The isbn box on the back is orange and features 2 barcodes, the smaller of which has the numbers "53499" above it. 
This was by far, the biggest print run in the series, selling an unheard of 10.95 million copies in the first 24 hours in the U.S. and U.K. combined. Rowling did sign a number of copies for this release, as did the illustrator Mary GrandPré (exact numbers are not available, but the event was recorded and the signatures authenticated, so may be of more value). The unsigned edition / title probably holds the least value in the series because so many were printed.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

BN Has Signed Paolo Bacigalupi

For you Windup Girl fans out there, Barnes and Noble has signed editions of Paolo Bacigalupi's newest title, The Water Knife (published May 25, 2015 by Knopf).  The signature appears on a tipped-in page by the publisher. Still, it's better than a signed bookplate, or no signature at all for that matter.

Subterranean Press, who's published several limited edition Bacigalupi titles, states that they don't currently have plans to publish a limited edition of The Water Knife, so this may be as close as we get for awhile.

Book description:

In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, detective, leg-breaker, assassin and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel "cuts" water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet, while the poor get nothing but dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with no love for Vegas and every reason to hate Angel, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas refugee who survives by her wits and street smarts in a city that despises everything that she represents.  With bodies piling up, bullets flying, and Phoenix teetering on collapse, it seems like California is making a power play to monopolize the life-giving flow of a river. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Much is that Harry Potter in the Window? (pt. 2)

In part one of this series, we talked about the U.K. editions, their print runs and various states. In the case of the first three books in the series, the U.K. editions were published up to a year ahead of the U.S. editions (as such are considered the true firsts). Starting with the fourth book, however, the first editions were simultaneously published in the U.K., U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Even though the U.S. versions of the first three books aren't considered the true firsts, they still have quite a bit of value, but what people don't understand is that even if you HAVE a first edition, if the condition isn't pristine, then the book isn't going to be worth what you want it to be worth.

Case in point, as I write this there are several copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for sale over on eBay. They claim (and I truly believe them to be) first editions. They're asking anywhere from $425 to $500 USD (unsigned). The only problem? They are in atrocious condition.

Let's review how book conditions are graded or categorized:

With that in mind, let's take a look at a couple of examples, in which the sellers think they have an 'As New' or 'Fine' copy, when in fact they have something that more closely resembles 'Poor' to 'Good.'

Example 1

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
First edition / First printing (2nd state dust jacket)
Full number line is presented on the copyright page
Original price shows $16.95
Back cover has a quote from Publishers Weekly rather than the Guardian (thus the 2nd state dust jacket)
Asking: $475 USD

I think most people would look at this picture and be a bit leery of the $475 price tag (with good reason), but if you don't see the warning signs, let me show you.

First, let me call your attention to the book corners. There is visible bumping and wear on all corners.

Some wear is warranted, considering the book is 17 years old, but ideally, you don't want to be able to spot that wear with the naked eye from 2-3 feet away.

Second, check out the bottom edge of the dust jacket. It's a bit worn / mangled.

A closer view of that corner. Not looking good.

And a couple more corners, showing bumps to the book boards and rips in the dust jacket. (Check out how dirty those pages are too).

Remember, a book that is "sufficiently worn... soiled, scuffed, stained or spotted" falls under the 'Poor' category.  
Next, let's look at the condition of the book cover beneath the dust jacket. There are visible water stains and wear marks.

And I'm noticing too, that the debossed diamond pattern on the purple book board very difficult to see, possibly indicating further wear.

The lettering on the spine is mostly worn off. You want it, instead, to be crisp and clear with no sign of rubbing or flaking.

And you want the book block to be clean and tight. It's hard to tell if it's tight, although the book block looks nice and square. It's certainly not considered clean.

The only way I would buy this book, in the condition it is presented, is if it were signed by the author. Which it is not. (I would then probably pay a restorer a hefty sum to clean, repair, and possibly rebind the book).

I'm guessing, this book is probably worth $50 - $100, given its condition and the fact that it is not signed. I certainly wouldn't pay $475, but there might be someone out there who will (no judgment). Instead, I'd look for a copy that was in better condition - at any given point in time you can find listings for a First / First of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in much better condition for $350 and up on sites like or even Amazon. Just be careful when reading the descriptions and don't buy anything that you're not 100% sure of.

Example 2: 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
First edition / First printing (2nd state dust jacket)
*Claims it's a "true first" - which it is not, since it's not the U.K. version. It's not even a first state U.S. edition.*
Full number line is presented on the copyright page
Original price shows $16.95
Back cover has a quote from Publishers Weekly
*Front end sheet has an inscribed note from "mom"*
Asking: $499 USD

At first glance, this copy looks pretty nice. The owner has, at least, covered the book with Brodart (or the like) for protection.

With a protective cover, it is harder to tell the condition of the dust jacket, so you have to rely on their description and photographs.

In this case, the photos are limited, but the dust jacket looks like it's in pretty good condition. It's what's under the dust jacket that is a bit concerning.

Wear & water stains. It looks like someone rested their coffee cup or water glass (repeatedly) on the book. And, I'm guessing the dust jacket (if it's original) will have matching water damage.

Also check out the wear on the red book cloth towards the bottom half of the book. This might indicate that the book went without a dust jacket for a time (and was perhaps cradled in someone's hand while reading, creating a worn spot).

And the upper right hand corner of the book appears to have the remains of a sticker or price tag. This might mean that the book was once sold without the dust jacket, and has since acquired a new one. If that's the case, you need to make sure the dust jacket matches the spine of the book (in this case, based on other pictures posted by the seller, it appears that it does).

The foil stamped lettering on the spine looks better on this book than on the other one, but there is still some wear.

Like the other copy, this one is not signed by the author or the illustrator, and while the dust jacket appears to be in 'Fine' or 'Very Good' condition, the book itself would probably be classified as 'Fair.'

There's nothing wrong with books in 'Fair' condition - but, in this case, I wouldn't pay $499, even if it is a First / First.

I've seen copies in similar condition priced in the $50 - $100 range, which is probably MORE than a fair price, given it's a First / First with 2nd state dust jacket.

It should be noted that eBay is not the only marketplace on which people attempt to sell poorer quality first/firsts of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Even over at Abebooks (by all accounts a reputable marketplace) there are 'Poor' to 'Fair' copies for which the seller hopes to garner a high price. So just be vigilant if you're shopping for one of these copies... Or if you're trying to sell your copy - be honest with both yourself and the buyer.

There were only about 10,000 copies printed in the first U.S. run, so there are people out there who will pay higher prices to get their hands on one of these First / Firsts. If you're selling your copy, just be honest about the condition, the buyer may not care.

So then, you might ask, what does a 'Fine' copy look like? Well, it looks practically new. Most likely it's been read once then carefully put back on the shelf. To be honest, I scoured various online marketplaces and couldn't find ANY pictures illustrating what a 'Fine' or 'As New' copy looks like. Anyone offering a book in this condition should also post or offer to provide pictures in order to fully back up their claims.

I can, however, show you some examples of what would probably be considered 'Very Good':

First, let me note that this is a First U.S. edition / Eighth printing (not a First / First). That aside, take a look at how crisp the foil-stamped lettering appears, and that there is a lack of wear on the red book cloth.

This particular copy has a few "voids" in the foil-stamping (notice the pin sized dots on the 'H'). Although these could easily be contributed to printing rather than wear, if I were to sell this copy, it would behoove me to disclose this to my buyer.

Here's picture of the spine of a First U.S. edition / Fourth printing (worth about $220 USD). The foil stamping is still quite crisp, although the author's name (JK Rowling) has started to wear a little.

Also notice that the red book cloth is in good shape, as are the purple diamond-stamped book boards.

Compare this to the example(s) above.
Now, let's take a look at those corners. Here, we have sharp looking corners that haven't been repeatedly bumped or dulled. Notice, too that the pages appear to have clean edges, unlike the examples shown above.

And how about those dust jackets? Well, I have mine protected in Brodart sleeves. In general, they're in 'Good' to 'Very Good' condition, but you can't really tell that from the picture.

You can't tell that there are light, not-quite creases on the spine or that the lower right corner shows some wear.

There are no rips or tears, although these small wear points are enough to downgrade this dust jacket from 'Fine' to 'Very Good.'

When in doubt, consult the chart above that lays out what is allowable under each condition & remember, 'As New' is literally a book that is brand new and has NOT been read or repeatedly opened. It has not been previously bought or owned by anyone. Instead, it has been sitting on a warehouse shelf somewhere (for the past 14-17 years). I'm not saying that there aren't 'As New' copies of the earlier Harry Potter books out there, but is a very rare thing.

A book in 'Fine' condition is one that has been bought / owned by one person and probably read once, but looks like a new book. Again, these are pretty rare, especially the further out you get from the date of publication. These were most likely bought by collectors early on and kept pristine.

The average conscientious book owners and novice collectors out there who generally take care of their books - covering them, dusting them, storing them upright on shelves, etc. -- these folks are more likely to have books in the 'Very Good' category.

Most of the rest of the world, however, probably has books in 'Fair' to 'Good' condition. Sometimes you'll have to read between the lines to determine if a book is in the condition that the bookseller has listed it. For instance, if a seller says a book is in 'As New condition' and follows that statement up with a description like, 'only slight wear with previous owner's name on the end-sheet and small tear on dj corner' -- Well, then it's not really 'As New.' Based on the description they just gave, it's probably a 'Very Good' to 'Good' copy.

So just keep that in mind when trying to determine the condition of your books. In general, we all want to own 'Fine' or 'As New' books, but the truth is, most of us just don't. We didn't buy the book way back when thinking that one day it might be collectible. We bought it to read, as did 99% of the population.

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