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Black Sparrow values (1 Viewer)

Looking for opinions about a early Sparrow by buk., "The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses". This was on Ebay for serious money in the spring and were advertised as later than first editions. I checked ABE and Bookfinder and could not find any later edition hardbacks for sale at any price. What is the real value of later than first editions of this book??
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Later hardcovers come up on ebay from time to time at sill overpriced amounts, but don;t be fooled. If it is not a first edition, it may be worth $50 as a later printing. A first hardcover is worth a LOT, but later printings not so much. To confuse the issue, some sellers list later printings as first editions, which is kind of true, but kind of not. Technically, a later printing could be called first edition, nineteenth printing (as long as the text was not revised).

Later printings do not show up too often, but the are not rare. When Black Sparrow was in business, you could go into any Borders or Barnes & Noble and buy them up for $27.50 each....

Bill
 

Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
I don't see many hardover copies show up of "The Days Run Away".
The last copy I sold was in 2009. I believe the buyer paid $60.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Some booksellers will call any hardcover issued by the original publisher a first edition, but most only call the first printing a first edition. You'll even see hardcover book club editions called firsts. Speaking of which, there has been at least one book club edition of a Black Sparrow Press title, but unlike many book club editions, they seem to be fairly scarce, although they still aren't worth much. I forget which book that is -- I have it here somewhere.
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Reaper Crew
Moderator
Founding member
I've seen later printing hard backs by Bukowski priced at ridiculous amounts. They are not worth ridiculous amounts. Some books sellers do like to fish for suckers.

I personally would not pay more than say $30-$50 USD for a later printing.
 

mjp

Founding member
I agree with a $50-$60 high end for a non-first BSP Bukowski hardcover, but the fact is they are getting harder and harder to come by (with the exception of most of the posthumous titles which apparently had larger runs). So while they aren't rare, per se, they are becoming more scarce and that's naturally going to increase their value.

Days Run Away is a good example, because it doesn't come up on eBay often these days, and when it does, if you have three or four people who have been waiting for a copy, they are going to drive the price up. We may think that some of the final prices on eBay are paid by suckers, but I think it's fair to say that for the most part, the selling prices on eBay are about the best indicator we have of something's real-world value. Prices on places like ABE are not.

I ignored the non-first hardcovers for a long time, and when I finally decided I was going to pick them up, it wasn't easy to find them all, which surprised me at the time (5 or 6 years ago). Eventually $100 for something like a 10th printing of Days Run Away is going to seem like a good deal. And I don't think we're too far from that point now.

So yeah, anyone who wants to sell clean pre-1990 title hardcovers for $30-$50 a pop, I'll buy them. ;)
 

hank solo

Just practicin' steps and keepin' outta the fights
Reaper Crew
Moderator
Founding member
Eventually $100 for something like a 10th printing of Days Run Away is going to seem like a good deal. And I don't think we're too far from that point now.

True. I'm just cheap.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I've never had any Black Sparrow Press hardcovers -- too broke all the time. Even when the hardcover firsts were in the bookstores selling for issue price, I always passed them up in favor of the paperback. Personally, I can't see paying more than about $30 for a later printing hardcover, but if the demand is there and they're scarce, the prices will keep rising.
 
A couple later-printing copies of 'Days' have sold recently on eBay for what I consider to be 'stupid money'. I mean, signed firsts of this title went for $500 just a couple years ago, so $200 for 20th printing is nuts.

The frustrating thing is knowing that people out there who don't know much about collecting end up paying a lot of money for a hardcover they think is a first or is in some way collectible.
 

mjp

Founding member
$189 for a 12th printing and $179 for a 26th printing (your link) may be nuts or stupid money, but once higher prices are established it's difficult to go back. Current manuscript prices demonstrate that. Regardless of who drives the prices up, once they're up, it's unlikely that they'll ever go back to where they were.

As for the signed first, I would bet that it would have gone for more on eBay than it did at PBA. Two different kinds of buyers there.
 
Well this is the tricky thing about value, right? The conventional wisdom is that something is worth what someone will pay for it.

The problem is that people will pay for something w/o knowing what its value is, thus (I would argue) artificially increasing its worth. And since there are few enough of these HB BSP titles, it's challenging to get a read on it. This 'Days Run Away' is a good example. I saw what they had sold for on eBay, thought, 'that seems crazy', cruised on over to Amazon and found one for $35. But, because two have sold on eBay for nearly $200, the next one on eBay is likely to go up on eBay for $200.

Even the manuscript thing is funny -- here's a 1982 script that sold on PBA in 2011 for $660, and one from 1982 that sold on eBay last month for $236. Obviously, the manuscript thing is even trickier when it comes to collectibility, but that's a pretty wide variance.

For me the frustration is that, as a book collector, you see some real bullshit prices out there. I don't mind paying a good fair price on a truly collectible book, but a) I hate it when those BS prices drive up the cost of a book and b) I feel badly seeing a rube pay $200 for a book they could've gotten for $35 if they'd simply gone to a different website.

Anyway, that's enough ranting from me for now.
 

mjp

Founding member
I hear you. I guess I disagree that the values are being artificially inflated. You could artificially inflate values on eBay by faking a bunch of auctions, but I don't think that's what happened with the books.

People who didn't know what they were doing also drove the manuscript prices up tenfold. But even though they may have been stupid, they are the reason that PBA manuscript sold last year for $660. Before them it would have probably sold for $60. Is that inflation artificial? It's unfortunate, but it's quite real and it changed how people perceive the value of the manuscripts. The $236 on eBay seems low in comparison, but it's still inflated compared to the days before the Lawrence vs. Runfola grudge match.

It's funny, the "consensus valuation" of things on eBay has had a negative effect on some things, but I think it's hard to deny the net positive. Booksellers used to have an advantage where knowledge or expertise were concerned, so if they told you something was rare (and therefore expensive), you had no reason to doubt them. Then the Internet came and crashed their party, and suddenly you could see for yourself just how rare something was.

Access to information hasn't killed them because they still have clientele who wouldn't dirty their hands on something like eBay (or this forum). But overall it has to have hurt them. It's hurt a lot of traditional businesses. But then a lot of those businesses were gleefully fucking us before the Internet, so I'm not too broken up about their decline.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
i've said this before, but i don't believe ebay prices are an accurate measure of value unless you averaged all the sales for a particular book over a long period of time. a couple exorbitant prices here or there could be flukes or they could be the beginning of a trend, but it's too little data to say. yes, ebay does tell you definitively how much someone is willing to pay, but it also tells you how much someone is willing to pay that week, and only from the group of people who happened to see the item that week, only from the group of people within that group who remembered to bid when the item was ending. i've had experiences before where i listed a book for $20 and it didn't sell, only to sell for $150 the next week when i relisted it. similarly, i have taken books to bookstores to trade in and been offered $8 - $10 in trade credit, only to sell the book on eBay for $100 or so. so many things are at play when an item sells on ebay - auction psychology, timing, how many similar items are listed or have been listed, etc. that it is reductive just to say that abebooks presents one range of price and ebay presents a much lower range.

i totally agree with mjp's point RE: information, but what i think we're seeing is that people not only know where to find better deals than what booksellers are showing them, but they are also going direct to the market with their demand, rather than involving booksellers. this is why someone at green apple books in san francisco - one of the two best stores in the bay area with hundreds of thousands of titles and seasoned buyers - tells me that there's no market for a book signed by dan clowes, jaime hernandez, and charles burns. because the market isn't going to them for that book, it's going to eBay and paying a lot for it. the book trade isn't operating on outmoded logic, they're just serving different customers, and those customers are paying book trade valuations. that doesn't mean that a bookseller is overcharging when they sell something for 2x what it sells for on ebay (well, not necessarily at least), because they're reacting to different customer demand. if i had sold my book to green apple, they would have put $25 on it, which doesn't mean the ebay bidder who bought it for $150 got ripped off either.

i don't know what my point is. maybe we're past "books are worth what people will pay for them" and more "book value is malleable depending on the venue, seller, and customer." i do like this discussion a lot, though, so thanks for permitting me my verbosity.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
justine just told me without telling me that i don't know what i'm talking about in this regard, so there's that, too.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I've been selling a lot of rare books (not Bukowski) on eBay over the past six months and what I've seen is that prices have been overall suppressed. I've had very rare books that are supposedly worth, say, $100 and they don't sell at $50 nor $25 nor $20, but they go at $15. On ABE, if there's any copies available, maybe there's one at a reasonable dealer price of $100, and others at $200 and up (wishful thinking prices). And I can't get $50 for it. I agree that timing and luck play into it on eBay -- who sees it what week, and do they remember to bid later, and how long is it til payday. But overall, prices on eBay are very low on many rare books lately. At the same time, highly desirable items can still get good money. I think the average middle range price of a book on ABE can be a good measure of the "actual" value of a book. The lowest prices on ABE are often lowball /blow out prices, and the high ones are either old, pre-2008 prices, or stuff that may never sell at that price, or at least not for years. Amazon used book prices are all over the map. I've seen the same edition, same condition of a book there listed at 1 cent and $1149.73, with a few at $30 or whatever. Ebay is a good measure of how much demand there is for a book, and less of what it is "actually" (or should be) worth. In my always goofy opinion.
 

Jason

Founding member
i've said this before, but i don't believe ebay prices are an accurate measure of value unless you averaged all the sales for a particular book over a long period of time. a couple exorbitant prices here or there could be flukes or they could be the beginning of a trend, but it's too little data to say. yes, ebay does tell you definitively how much someone is willing to pay, but it also tells you how much someone is willing to pay that week, and only from the group of people who happened to see the item that week, only from the group of people within that group who remembered to bid when the item was ending.

It's an excellent point: the transaction determines the spot market price at the time of sale but doesn't in itself define a trend to predict future pricing.
 

mjp

Founding member
I've seen a single high selling price affect subsequent listings many times, and seen those new higher prices become ingrained. You can maintain that eBay is a random marketplace, it certainly seems that way sometimes. But overall (and more importantly, over time), I don't believe it is.

And a "spot market price" is the market price. There is no future! Did the Sex Pistols teach us nothing?
 

esart

esart.com
Founding member
This thread actually makes me want to post a book I've been wanting to sell for a while, but I really have no clue what it's actually worth. It is the first American edition of Animal Farm in good to fine condition. Abe sellers lists it anywhere from $200 on up to $750, but none of them are priced per condition - it's just totally arbitrary. So maybe Ebay will give me a barometer to work with so I can price this thing.
 

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