Rarity v. quality (1 Viewer)

Since this is the haunt of bibliophiles, here's one for you:

What do you think about the prices paid for CB books? Are they entirely down to the issues that preoccupy collectors (rarity, signature, association copy, edition, condition, etc) or are they in some degree influenced by how highly rated that particular piece of writing is? There might be a super deluxe signed leatherbound 1 of 1 binding of Pulp but who would want it other than a completist? (To illustrate my query I had to summon up what I suppose to be the least popular book by CB, please disregard that point and just take it as an example.) I presume an identical copy of Women or Post Office would fetch more.... but I guess it just down to market forces: who's buying, who's competing and how much money is on the table...

Maybe this is unanswerable...

(Please complete your answers on one side of the paper only and show your workings)
 
Chronic has some good thoughts about this here: http://www.collectingbukowski.com/collecting.html

Certainly the percent difference between a rare variant of Post Office and a standard, signed copy would be much higher than the same scenario for Pulp.

What's interesting to me is the allure of Buk's signature. There are thousands and thousands of signed Buk books (I'm including the NYGs here), but they are still not all that common. You can find them, sure, but many stay in collections not to see the light of day for decades to come.
 
A rare book dealer I used to hang out with in L.A. once told me that book collecting is a totally subjective process and that market fluctuations are so variable as to be almost completely unreliable. For instance, what, to you, has more value: that "super deluxe, signed leatherbound 1 of 1 binding of 'Pulp'" you reference or Bukowski's personal proof copy of "Pulp"? A signed edition of "Post Office" or the copy from Tom Waits' personal library? Too many variables.
 
....and I guess that for collectors quality of the writing is not so important because they will buy reading copies of most items so that the text is separable from the collecting precisely because the collectible books are not so often read - people are using reading copies day to day.Am I right?
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I think the over-all quality of the author is the driving force, not the quality of individual texts. Within an author's works, the early stuff tends to be valued more highly than the later, and then all the other factors of rarity, association, beauty, condition play into it. Guessing prices is complex, like predicting the weather. You'd need a super computer to unravel it.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
I don't have any reading copies- it just seems wrong (to me). Even my expensive books get read, and if i upgrade to a more limited edition copy of a book, i try to read it soon after buying it... it justifies the purchase in my twisted-up mind.

in answer to the question, i think that rarity is first, then quality. meaning: you have 1000 copies of a good book and 10 copies of a bad book; the bad book probably costs more. but, if you have 10 of each, the good book will cost significantly more. i think it is fallacious to say that collectors don't care about the words- if that were true, i wouldn't care if i had a rare bukowski book or a rare anne rice book.
 

chronic

old and in the way
I don't have any reading copies- it just seems wrong (to me). Even my expensive books get read, and if i upgrade to a more limited edition copy of a book, i try to read it soon after buying it... it justifies the purchase in my twisted-up mind.

Yeah, I also read mine, albeit carefully. I'm a collector... not a caretaker. If any of my books ever get so valuable that I'm afraid to handle them, I'll sell them.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
... i think that rarity is first, then quality. meaning: you have 1000 copies of a good book and 10 copies of a bad book; the bad book probably costs more. but, if you have 10 of each, the good book will cost significantly more. i think it is fallacious to say that collectors don't care about the words- if that were true, i wouldn't care if i had a rare bukowski book or a rare anne rice book.

If the good and bad book are by the same author, and the author is in high demand, like Buk, then the rare bad book will be more valuable than the more common good book. But if they're by different authors, the author's reputation and overall quality will be the driving factor, not the relative rarity. It's weird, but I've had several books that were extremely rare and almost worthless because nobody gave a damn about the author/text. One was a book of humor from WWI, with only 5 copies known worldwide. I forget the title, but it was worth about $50. I've had books that were the only copy I could locate for sale online, that were unsalebale because nobody was searching for them. Demand is the key. People have to want the title, or they have to want everything by that author, or the rarest copies, etc.
 

chronic

old and in the way
It's weird, but I've had several books that were extremely rare and almost worthless because nobody gave a damn about the author/text. One was a book of humor from WWI, with only 5 copies known worldwide. I forget the title, but it was worth about $50

You know, I have an old book (not at hand but I think the publication date was 1820-something) about the House of Stuart and I have no idea what it's worth or how to arrive at its value. The only copy I've been able to locate online is a single copy in the British Library.

Any offers?
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
What I do with books like that (if I don't want to keep it) is put it on eBay with a low reserve and let the market decide what it's worth. If people are looking for it, they'll drive the price up. If no one cares, it'll go cheap.

It's possible for a book to be extremely rare or even unique, and utterly worthless. This happens with zero demand non-fiction subjects and completely obscure literary authors. At any given time I have 5 or 10 books that are in this class. You can't buy a copy and nobody is looking for it. It's all supply and demand, but without demand supply is meaningless. I've often thought it would be fun in a perverse way to collect those sorts of books (and I have to a degree.)
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top