Books, at their core, are the source of human knowledge, experience, and reflection. They can touch every corner of the world, regardless of economic status, and allow us to expand our imagination, expand our world and transfer rare knowledge. Most people look at books to escape the real world into a fantasy land or as a mean to self-educate themselves, but to some, rare books are profitable investments that can reap financial benefits.
Texts have been around for thousands of years and, if they have a chance of surviving the test of time, then they can be worth millions of dollars. Books bound by artful texts which have played a role in history make for some of the rarest and most expensive investments. Sold for $35 million in a private sale in September 2017, The Book of Mormon holds the record as the most expensive antique book ever sold. It is considered one of the central texts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint. The antique book contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from 600 BC to AD 421 and even during an interlude dated by the text to the unspecified time of the Tower of Babel.
Time is your best friend when looking for a text to invest in. Like the Book of Mormon, the Magna Carta is a piece of text that is one of the most expensive ever sold, commanding a whopping $21.3 million in 2007. However, to someone who is just entering the investment book market where do you look?
Historical documents from centuries ago tend to hold the biggest price but there are investments to be made in novels in recent times. When looking for a book to purchase for investment purposes, first edition books, and books no longer in print is a good place to start. As an example, Dr. Suess children’s books, while mass-marketed, have broken into the book market as a highly coveted investment for its first edition books and more recently, for certain volumes being taken off the shelf due to controversial text. One of the major platforms to purchase rare books and texts is Abe Books, which has a wide variety of rare books and collectibles. Currently, Horton Hatches the Egg first edition printed and signed by Dr. Suess himself in 1940 boasts a price of $20,000 on Abe Books. Dr. Suess was a staple amongst children and families globally which helps give it its value. However, the cost of a book is not purely dictated by it being the first edition, things such as the presence of a dust jacket, author’s inscription, or physical condition of the book itself can help increase the price in the long run. Likewise, finding the right book to make an investment in has just as much to do with its cultural and historical significance as well.
Like art, books hold a sentimental value. Books can touch individuals on an emotional and even spiritual level. The investment itself is not just financial, there is a certain privilege and pleasure you derive from having the book in your library, very similar to owning a physical piece of art. Unlike a stock or real estate, rare books beat to their own drum, there is no direct linkage of a book to current macro-economic trends. Like investing in stocks, high-level book investors diversify their portfolios, acquiring a variety of desirable books in the field of history, economics, and children’s literature.
Investing in books may be difficult but they can prove to have quite the return if done correctly. Keep this in mind the next time you are cleaning out your garage or perusing garage sales, you may just find yourself in possession of a rare book worth some money.
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