Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's Your Harry Potter Worth?



The Collectible Harry Potter

Over 300 million copies of the Harry Potter series have been sold world wide. Each new book, when it was released, toppled sales records on the first day of sales (the later books selling 5-9 million copies in one day). And now, some of J.K. Rowling's signed first editions are being listed for $4k and $5k on Abe Books. What about those unsigned books, you may ask? Those are listing anywhere from $100-$1,000.

It's certainly enough to make you wonder how much that HP on the shelf is worth. But how do you know if it's a valuable one?

The Online Guide for Rare Book Collectors tells us that the early U.K. editions are the most valuable, since they were published first. BUT if you are lucky enough to own even a paperback first edition of The Sorcerer's Stone, you could be pleasantly surprised (they've been known to list for up to $70, in fine condition* - not bad for a paperback). So, how do you know if it's a first edition?



The easiest way is to open it up to the copyright page and see if it states "First Edition." If you have a hard cover copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone that was published in the U.S., it should state, at the very bottom of the page, "First American Edition October 1998." If so, you may (underscore 'may') have a valuable book on your hands. But Wait...


Check the Print Run

Unfortunately, it's not enough for this particular book to state "First American Edition" because many of the later printings AND book club editions make that same statement.

Just above that 'First American Edition' statement it should say "Printed in the U.S.A. 23" (For the hard cover). This let's us know in what region the book was printed. Later printings will have a different number (because they were printed in a different region).

Above that, there is a number line. These numbers indicate the print run. If you see a full number line (1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2    8 9/9 0/0 01 02) - that means it's a first print/first edition. If, say, it looks like this: 5 7 9 10 8 6 4    8 9/9 0/0 01 02, then you (like me) have a fourth print/first edition, because the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are missing from the number line. It's that number "1" you're looking for (not "01"). 

The numbers "8 9/9 0/0 01 02" indicate the year the book was published. Look for the lowest "year" in this string of numbers, in this case the "8" followed by "9/9" indicates 1998. (9/9 = 1999, 0/0 = 2000, 01 = 2001, etc.)

This can also be tricky because, again, the Book Club Edition (BCE) may also show the full number line. BUT there are other ways to tell if it's a more valuable First Edition or a less valuable BCE.

Check the Original Price

Even if you don't have a first print, you may still have a valuable book. Open the front cover of your book and check the price listed in the upper right corner of the front dust jacket flap.

If there is no price listed, then you have a Book Club Edition

If the price listed is $17.95, you have a later printing. 

If the price listed is $19.95, then you have a MUCH Later printing that, unless it's signed is probably not worth much.

If, however, the price listed is $16.95, then you have an earlier print run whose value may be higher. Even the later print runs of this first edition can garner prices in the $100 range. The price changed to $17.95 somewhere between the 21st and 24th print runs. If it's $17.95, it still could be a good book to keep in the collection (with a value potentially hovering around $100, although I've seen some book sellers trying to sell it for over $500 - passing it off as THE first American edition. Don't be fooled). keep reading...

The Spine

The U.S. first edition had several different dust jacket designs, the spines and back covers of which differ slightly:

  1. The first design lists "J.K. Rowling" as the author, printed at the head (top) of the spine. No Year is listed.
  2. The second design remains the same on the spine (but the back of the dust jacket changes - see below)
  3. The third design lists the author as "Rowling" (dropping the J.K.), and still does not display the "Year 1" badge.
  4. The fourth, fifth, and all subsequent designs lists the author as "Rowling" under which it states "Year 1" on the spine - this indicates either a later print run or a Book Club Edition (with the price of $17.95). *although it should be noted that some BCEs may not include "Year 1" on the spine, in these cases, you'll need to examine the book boards (see below).


The Back Cover

Dust jacket design changes weren't limited to the spine:
  1. The first design: On the back cover, the isbn box is white with the numbers "51695" above the small barcode, AND the back cover has a quote from The Guardian (not Publishers Weekly)
  2. The second dust jacket design has a Publishers Weekly quote on the back. All else is the same.
  3. The back cover of the third dust jacket design doesn't change. (Just the spine)
  4. The fourth jacket design shows the price jump ($17.95) somewhere between the 12th and 21st printings; the isbn box is white with the numbers "51795" above the small barcode.
  5. The fifth design has a red isbn box on the back cover instead of white - this happened sometime around the 26th printing. The price is still listed as $17.95.
If there is no small barcode or the small barcode does not have numbers (51695, 51795, 51995) above it, then it is a Book Club Edition.

Check Under the Cover: The Book Boards
Also of importance is the book board underneath that dust jacket. It should be a purple, diamond-stamped board and a red cloth spine with gold stamped letters (EXCEPT for the 6th printing, which is just a plain purple board, no diamond stamp).

Later bindings of the book will have black diamond stamped boards with a purple cloth spine (these can still garner a 3-digit price, but closer to the $100 level).

Even later editions will have a plain red board with black cloth or a plain black board with red cloth (or may just be plain red or black with no change in the spine color). 

Both LATER printings and Book Club Editions will feature plain boards (no diamond stamp). These later printings are worth very little. However, some people will (either knowingly or unknowingly) try to sell these later printings as the more valuable First Editions. Unless they're signed by the author or illustrator, they're really not worth the high price tag.

Also check the spine. Information on the spine should appear in gold lettering. The lettering should be crisp and clear (no flaking). Information on the spine of the book should match that on the spine of the dust jacket. (If no year is present on the dust jacket, neither should the book spine have a year displayed.)

*The Condition
Absolutely none of this matters if your book is not in Fine to Near Fine condition

Most books out there are in the poor to fair condition (in nicer terms this means the book was well read). 

Book collectors are looking for books in like new condition - perhaps read once, with nice crisp clean pages, and a tight, square binding. If the book leans when standing, or if it's floppy, loose or scuffed up, the value will take a nose dive. 

Similarly the value drops, if there are any marks (owner's names), name plates, underlining, etc. on the pages. Even odors can diminish the value (musty, mildewy, smokey).

And then there's price clipping... the age-old habit of clipping off the corner of the dust jacket in which the price can be found. Price-clipped dust jackets lower the value of the book, not just because the jacket has been defaced, but because it makes it harder to confirm the edition and printing of the book. 

For more information, see The Harry Potter Collecting Guide at Abe Books, or the Harry Potter page at First Edition Points.

As with all markets, there is a collector for every type of book. But even if you don't have a copy that the market sees as valuable - you still have a piece of literary history and a great book that jump started a whole new generation of readers.


[updated 9/9/13]

49 comments:

  1. Really interesting! Made me check out my bookshelf. Looks like I have a "First American Edition, October 1998," but above that is "Printed in the U.S.A. 37" instead of "23", purple diamond board with red binding, red isbn box, $17.95, you get the picture. My number line is 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 9/9 0/0 01 02, so I'm guessing 24th printing/1st edition? Oh, and my parents wrote "Merry Christmas 1999" on the inside cover. Of course. :) At any rate, fun! :) Thanks for the neat post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Nicole,

    I know! Figuring out the edition/value of a Harry Potter book is like figuring out a good mystery. very fun.

    From what I can tell the number in "U.S.A. 37" designates a location where the book was printed. So your copy was printed at a different location than that of the first batch. And you are correct, it looks like you have a 24th printing. As for the the note your parents wrote in the book - usually collectors aren't overly concerned with inscriptions when they're on the inside cover (or even first end sheet page - that colorful page before you get to the title page, et al.)

    Personally, I love finding books with inscriptions - it adds to the story/history of the book as an object. neat stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mine says

    30 29 28 27 26 25 9/9 0/0 01 02
    Printed in the U.S.A. 37
    First American edition, October 1998

    My dust jacket fits the description of the 5th jacket design. It has Year 1, Rowling, Publisher's Weekly, $17.95, and a red ISBN box.

    My cover is purple with the diamond pattern with red cloth binding and gold lettering.

    Can you tell me what edition and printing I have?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Based on what you wrote, it looks like you have the 25th printing of the first edition, printed in 1999. The lowest number in the string "30 29 28 27 26 25" indicates the print run. The lowest number in the string "9/9 0/0 01 02" indicates the year in which it was printed. In this case 9/9 = 1999.

    Somewhere around the 21st printing the price got bumped from $16.95 to $17.95. So you have what some consider to be a later printing of the first edition. Current prices on these vary and really depend on the condition of the book. Recently, I've seen a 30th printing list for $40 and a 21st printing list for $70.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This video wont help on pricing but it may help some on identifying the first edition or reading the line in harry potter books, it shows the chamber of secrets retail 1st and book club 1st
    http://youtu.be/E2uULlKfovg

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a first edition copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - but I can't a value. It doesn't have the Year 1 label on the side and the price is still listed at $16.95. It has the Publisher's weekly blurb on the back, is hardcovered, and is purple and red with gold lettering on the spine of the book itself. On the inside it says Printed in the U.S.A. 37 and First American Edition, October 1998. That's pretty standard...but what's throwing me off is the number string. Mine is really short - it only says 9 10 8 followed by a decent amount of space and 9/9 0/0 01 02. I'm very confused because it seems every other book has a string of ten numbers, not three!

    I actually got this book at the Missouri State Fair in 1998 when Scholastic had a booth set up giving out books to kids. :) Any help would be appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It means you have an 8th printing of the first edition (assuming it also states "first edition"), although you probably have a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th printing of the dust jacket. It gets so convoluted. At any rate, the fact that it states the price as $16.95 is a good thing.

      I can't tell you what the value is b/c it changes constantly (depending on how flooded the market is) AND it depends heavily on the condition of both the book and the dust jacket (really, an appraiser or high end book dealer should look at it).

      I can tell you that "later printings" of the first edition in near Fine to mint condition can garner prices in the $60 - $150 range. In fact, as of this posting, someone over on Abebooks.com is asking $140 for a first edition copy with the later price tag of $17.95 - probably a little high for that particular copy.

      Another term book seller use is "Early printing" of the first edition - this might be what I'd classify your copy as, since it still has the lower price tag, and no number on the spine. These, in Fine to Mint condition, can go for $140-$250. (note: If they're not in great condition, they could go for $15, so have someone look at it & definitely take care of it).

      Delete
    2. i have a bloomsbury paper back of the chamber of secrets from the u.k.
      the nuber line reads; 20, what does this mean and is it worth anything?

      Delete
    3. Paperbacks are harder to valuate because the condition varies greatly. Based on your description, you have a 20th printing. Because the paperbacks were published after the hardcovers, it's most likely worth what you'd find it for at a used bookstore.

      Delete
  7. What about the advanced reader? I have a paperback Advance Reader edition of the American version. Says. First American edition, Ocotber 1998. Back cover says $16.95 has the full print number line starting with 1.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Lesley, Advance copies of HP & The Sorcerer's stone are considered quite valuable, assuming they're in good condition. There are not many on the market but you can check out the listings at AbeBooks (currently there are four copies for sale, ranging from $795 to $1500) AbeBooks

      Delete
    2. (I hope this is okay to write...) If you're looking to sell that, I'll gladly buy it from you. J.K. Rowling is one of the authors that I heavily collect. I have an ARC for Azkaban, but not for Sorcerer's Stone or Chamber of Secrets. Let me know at my email if you still have it and are interested in selling.

      Brandon

      Delete
    3. Hi Brandon,

      If you're still looking for an ARC of The Chamber of Secrets, I have one I'd be happy to sell.

      Chase

      Delete
    4. Chase,

      I'm definitely interested. Do you have pictures? Please email me at brandon.sharp225@yahoo.com.

      Brandon

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That means it's a 20th printing, so it's not an early enough printing to be worth anything. Also, Harry Potter paperbacks aren't really worth that much anyway, since they were printed after the hardback copies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. is it a first edition, 20th printing?

      Delete
    2. Without seeing the book, I can't be sure. But unless it's a first edition, first printing,(and hardback) it's not going to be worth anything.

      Delete
  10. I'm really confused my dad bought me back from America harry potter and the sorcers stone hard back it has a purple cover with diamonds and a red spine with year 1 in a badge and Rowling underlined on the inside it has 40 39 38 0/0 01 02 and 19.95 on the inside can some one please tell me what edition it is I got it 10 years ago now lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Danni,

      You have a later edition (38th printing), after the 2nd price bump.

      Delete
  11. Mine says 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 9/9 0/0 01 02
    Printed in the USA 37 - First American edition, October 1998
    The inside of the dust jacket says $17.95 as well.

    I am guessing that mine is the 24th printing of the first edition.It does have the purple stamped diamonds and red cloth binding with gold letters on it. But I'm wondering, how much value does this edition go for today? Also, the dust jacket on the back has a red gradient background right behind the bar code, does that mean anything? Because I've seen other books, where the background of the bar code is just plain white.

    Any help would be much appreciated :) Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, unless it's the first edition, first printing, it's not going to be worth much more than what you can get for it at a used book store.

      Delete
    2. Hi Amanda,

      You're right, you have a 24th printing, and a 4th or 5th generation dust jacket (from the sound of it). The value of the book will be dependent on condition. I've seen later printings (usually 15th-20th) with earlier generation dust jackets selling for around $50 to $100 - but they were in pristine condition (no bumps, scratches, tears, marks, etc).

      Delete
  12. hi - I have a copy that might be a first as it has the following on the copyright page:
    13579108642 8 9/9 0/0 01 02, printed in the USA 23, first american edition, October 1998
    Sadly its lacking a dj. It has purple boards with diamond pattern and a red cloth spine. Also has 'year 1' in gold on the spine as well as Arthur A. Levine books, Scholastic press.
    Is this a first edition or does the 'year 1' on the spine denote a later print? Its in pretty good condition - clean pages but minor bends to hardback corners. Any idea what this is worth?
    any info gratefully received,
    Mike

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike,

      Without the dust jacket, the value goes down drastically. You're right in thinking that "Year 1" doesn't appear on the spine of the early printings of the first edition. So I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that you might actually have a book club edition. Book club editions are notorious for including the full number line on the copyright page, and they include the year on the spine.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I recently picked up what I thought was a first edition first printing trade edition of The Sorcerer's Stone. It was a black cloth cook club edition and at the time I thought it was a trade edition. Any Idea of how much it is worth it had the same number line and everything as a first print trade edition.
    Also I recently picked up a Prisoner of Azkaban hard cover. I bought it because it was the first one I have seen with NO number line. It is also black cloth. I have found no information on this book and it is starting to perplex me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, Book Club Editions aren't worth very much - if you're lucky, they'll be worth the cover price. More often than not, however, you'd be lucky to get a couple of dollars for them.

      No number lines, in general, can indicate that it's a first edition/first printing, OR a MUCH LATER printing, OR a Book Club Edition. Unfortunately, there are no rules regulating this. It is quite unusual, however.

      Delete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am a little confused about my book. It is a hardcover. It says:

    40 39 0/0 01 02
    Printed in the U.S.A. 12
    First American edition, October 1998

    My dust jacket fits the description of the 5th jacket design. It has Year 1, Rowling, Publisher's Weekly, and a red ISBN box. The only thing is that I can't seem to find a price anywhere. Am I just completely missing it?

    My cover is purple with the diamond pattern with red cloth binding and gold lettering. It is also signed by the author.

    Can you tell me what edition and printing I have? Also, does the author's signature help with the worth or not so much? Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The price should be on the front flap of the dust jacket, in the upper right corner. If there is no price, it's most likely a book club edition.

      Based on the number line above, it looks like the 39th printing.

      Delete
    2. So after comparing it my other books, it looks like someone cut the top of the dust jacket off. It was a gift to my mother so I guess they didn't want her to know how much they paid. Thank you for your information. I appreciate it!

      Delete
  17. Can someone idiot-proof this for me please?
    I understand what a 1st printing line means but i'm getting mixed signals from the web about what a 2nd through 10th printing is supposed to look like.
    I specifically need to see in writting what the line should say to be considered for other work to authenticate it. Claire keepingbusy73@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had already gotten an answer to 4th and 8th but I am getting 2 responses from the same one (7 9 10 8 6) been told 7th and 6th

      Delete
    2. If your number line is "7 9 10 8 6," then it is a 6th printing - the lowest number in that grouping.

      Delete
  18. Just curious, my copy of the first book is missing the year on the spine and I never understood why. It says:

    12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 9/9 0123 4/0
    Printed in the USA 40
    First Scholastic trade paperback printing September 1999

    I'm sure its not worth anything but I was curious what edition/printing it was. Can anyone help me out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It looks like you have a first printing of the paperback version?

      Paperbacks, unless signed or uncorrected proofs, rarely have a high value. There are folks out there who collect paperbacks in the hope that one day there will be so few copies of a particular title, that it will become a rare commodity.

      I generally don't collect paperbacks (mostly because I have a hard time keeping them pristine).

      Check abebooks.com - do an advance search for your title in softcover & see what comes up. This will give you an idea of the current value/climate for your title.

      http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Rowling&bi=s&bx=off&ds=30&fe=on&pn=Scholastic&recentlyadded=all&sortby=2&tn=Harry+Potter&x=34&y=12

      Delete
  19. I am curious at to the value of the first scholastic trade American paperback printing with the full number line to "1". My nephew has a copy which has never been read and is in perfect condition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best online source to assess the value of a book is abebooks.com. A quick search will give you an idea of current availability and values.

      Paperback collecting is a niche for those interested in the long game. In 10 or 20 years the number of well preserved paperback copies will have dwindled to a precious few. Until then, unless the book is signed, the value (I'm guessing) will be nominal.

      Here's a link to the listings on abebooks for paperback, first editions of Harry Potter titles: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Rowling&bi=s&bx=off&ds=30&fe=on&pn=Scholastic&recentlyadded=all&sortby=2&tn=Harry+Potter&x=34&y=12

      Delete
  20. Hi, I have the order of phoenix with the first part of the book printed where the last few chapters should be.. Has anyone seen that before?? Kim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a misprint. I've not come across any of these, but it does happen. Unlike baseball cards, when books are misprinted (or bound incorrectly) it doesn't add to their value. Mostly, it just irks the person interested in reading the story.

      Delete
  21. Hi there, I have a signed uk first edition of philosophers (sorcerers) stone, unread and undamaged with print run starting 30 29 28 -23. I also have a green proof copy of the prisoner of azkaban in very good condition, but alas, unsigned. I'd love to get an idea of their values, if anyone could advise? Thanks, Jenny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best advice is to take it to a book dealer who specializes in collectible editions and have them give you an appraisal. Signed copies are always worth more.

      The only thing I could find on Abebooks.com regarding the later print run, signed Philosophers Stone was this: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Rowling&bi=h&bx=off&ds=30&kn=later+printing&recentlyadded=all&sgnd=on&sortby=17&sts=t&tn=Philosopher%27s+stone&x=0&y=0

      And as far as the unsigned proof of Prisoner of Azkaban - there were actually two green covers - one was just a plain green with a white band where the text/title shows (200-250 were printed); the other is a green version of the actual cover (only 50 were printed).

      First proof (green with white band) - this link shows a signed version, but gives you some details on the published proof: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=9243707669&searchurl=an%3DRowling%26amp%3Bbi%3D0%26amp%3Bbx%3Doff%26amp%3Bds%3D30%26amp%3Bkn%3Dadvance%2Bproof%26amp%3Brecentlyadded%3Dall%26amp%3Bsortby%3D17%26amp%3Bsts%3Dt%26amp%3Btn%3DPrisoner%26amp%3Bx%3D0%26amp%3By%3D0

      Second proof (green version of final cover) - again, shows details of the published proof: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=593588831&searchurl=an%3DRowling%26amp%3Bbi%3D0%26amp%3Bbx%3Doff%26amp%3Bds%3D30%26amp%3Bkn%3Dadvance%2Bproof%26amp%3Brecentlyadded%3Dall%26amp%3Bsortby%3D17%26amp%3Bsts%3Dt%26amp%3Btn%3DPrisoner%26amp%3Bx%3D0%26amp%3By%3D0

      I hope this helps with your research. Please do seek out someone who can actually assess the value of your books, and it would probably be a good idea to insure them.

      Delete
  22. Hi Nicki, My sorcerer's stone has the 16.95 price, the publishers weekly quote and says simply "Rowling" on the spine. Inside it says: 7 9 10 8 8 9/9 0/0 01 02 printed in the u.s.a. 37
    Could you please provide me some info on which version it is and price?
    Thank you,
    Rob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rob,

      It looks like you have a 7th printing - also known as an early printing. The value will seriously depend on the condition of the book (does it have folded corners? tears? marks of any kind? bookshelf wear? Is the binding loose or tight? does it lean when you stand it upright? What condition is the dust jacket in? etc.)

      If you do a search on Abebooks.com (or follow this link: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Rowling&bi=h&bx=off&ds=30&kn=7th+printing&recentlyadded=all&sortby=17&sts=t&tn=Harry+Potter+and+the+Sorcerers+Stone&x=0&y=0), 3 listings for 7th printings come up with asking prices of $75 to $300.

      I find it's helpful to read the listing descriptions to see what condition those books are in. The value of the book (for insurance purposes) will usually be higher than the asking price.

      If you're trying to sell the book, then you're at the whim of the market and what people are willing to pay on any given day.

      Delete
    2. Hi Nicki,
      Thanks for getting back to me. Not looking to sell it. As it was the start of many happy memories. I was just curious what version it was and what market value it had as opposed to my own personal valuation.
      So once again thank you for clearing it up a bit for me.
      Best,
      Rob

      Delete
  23. Hi, I have an advanced reader' edition of Harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban that is purple and black checkered on the cover. On the inside it says 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 9/9 0/0 1 2 3 4
    Printed in the USA 37
    First American Edition, September 1999
    Is this copy worth anything

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have the last 3 books. All first editions usa 23. I am trying to find out what the value might be. Not sure I want to sell them but I am curious to see what they are valued at. My first comment wouldn't post. Hope this goes through.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hello I found a hard cover of the Sorcerers Stone. I was just wondering if it'd be worth anything at all. Dust jacket has embossed gold lettering, price inside cover read $16.95. Also just a side note, it is misprinted too. The binding is actually upside down or backwards compared the the book itself. Has the purple diamond and red cloth hard cover too.
    Copyright page reads:

    9 10 9/9 0/0 0/1 0/2
    Printed in U.S.A 37
    First American Edition October 1998

    If you could shed any interesting light on my book it'd be great. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Share It

Related Posts with Thumbnails