June 12, 2011

On the Maturing of the Rare Book Market

Veteran bookseller Ken Lopez gave a talk last year on what he sees as the dramatic changes that have taken place in the rare book market in the last 10-15 years, and the even more dramatic changes in the past 5 or 6 years. He talks about what kinds of changes have ocurred, what has caused them, what do they mean for now, and what are their implications for the future. Full transcript here.

3 comments:

Drew@CWBA said...

Interesting. I don't know about his broad "prices are only going to go up in the future" conclusion. Quite the opposite sentiment of so many other dealers who project doom and gloom. How all this relates to Civil War books as opposed to the author's expertise in modern firsts, I have no idea. I still think many Civil War online booksellers have no clue on the difference between scarce and rare.

Paul Taylor said...

Hi Drew - Good to hear from you. I would agree with your sentiment. The only books that I'm aware of that are "only going up in value" are the true high spots in 20th century fiction, regardless of genre.

As for Civil War books, I'm told that many long-term collectors are now elderly and looking to sell their collections, and that there seem to be not enough new ones coming into the fold. Thus a downward pressure on prices.

Of course, the advent of internet bookselling a decade or so ago really pushed prices down for all but the rarest of books as the "supply" of common titles mushroomed.

That said, some of the most difficult titles for me to find in "collector's condition" are university press books that are more than 15-20 yrs old. By that I mean hardcover first editions that are NOT library discards and are in pristine condition.

Drew@CWBA said...

"That said, some of the most difficult titles for me to find in "collector's condition" are university press books that are more than 15-20 yrs old. By that I mean hardcover first editions that are NOT library discards and are in pristine condition."

I know what you mean. It is just a crapshoot. Even sources that appear to be long standing "professional" sellers often describe books poorly and package indifferently, as if the condition of the book only matters at point of shipment. People often say ABE sellers are a breed above Amazon and eBay 3P sellers but my experience demonstrates that that is not broadly true.