September 22, 2007

Easton Press

Reading an online story the other day about Doris Kearns Goodwin prompted me to think about her latest book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. From a first edition collector's perspective, it will probably never command a large premium because its first print run was a bazillion copies, or so it seemed. The Easton Press however, did produce a lovely signed edition as part of their Signed First Editions series. For those who may not know, the Easton Press primarily produces full leatherbound editons of past classic works. They usually feature silk endpapers, a silk ribbon pagemarker, gilt edges, and perhaps a full-color illustration or two not found in the publisher's original trade edition. They certainly look good sitting on the shelf, but from a purist collector's perspective, these books are essentially nothing more than fancy reprints of past works.

As you can see with this link, they do produce a number of gorgeous Civil War titles. They are however, not inexpensive, with retail prices that can run anywhere from $75 to several hundred dollars for sets. Because these titles are often reprinted by Easton Press, they rarely sell for more than their asking price in the used market. They are certainly not a very good investment. There's an old agage in collecting that says if you collect for love rather than investment potential, you'll probably never lose any money. That's good advice, yet there is a series of Easton Press books that do have strong investment potential. This would be their Signed First Editions series of which they have science fiction, literary, and non-fiction branches. It is this last one in which the Goodwin book falls. In all cases, the books are designed as I've described above, though the print run is limited to somewhere in the 1000 to 2000-copy range. Copies that I own also contain a limitation page that staes the number of copies produced. Of course, each volume is also signed by the author which only adds to its collectibility. This version of Team of Rivals is long sold out from the Easton Press and is now selling in the $250 range.

Another example is Shelby Foote's classic 3-volume narrative of the Civil War. Easton published a 3-volume signed set years ago and which now goes for well over $1000 when offered. Mr. Foote was notoriously thrifty with his signature so that fact has helped to make this set a much sought after Civil War item. Go check 'em out. If you're looking to build a library of classic Civil War titles and have the eye and wallet to go the leatherbound route, then you may want to consider the Easton Press. Other than their signed editions though, it's doubtful you will recoup the original price.

1 comment:

Leather Bound Treasure Books said...

The American Dream a Lyndon Johnson biography was also published by the Easton Press in the Library of Presidents.