Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2006 Issue

Do not go unarmed into the dark.

Lindbergh.we.1927

Calculating book value is complex


By Bruce McKinney

In the AED there is an option to test your expectation of a book's present value against the computer generated estimate provided in the AED. This is possible because a link is provided in the preliminary results screen to "Get Current Estimate." Okay, it's not perfect but it's useful and thought provoking. To try it you need to be a paid member at any level. If you are simply curious you can sign-up as a visitor for a week for $7.95. It won't break the bank but it might break your heart because this is a record of what people paid rather than what sellers ask. Like Joe Friday used to say, "The facts Mam, just the facts." It works this way.

Sign in and select KEYWORD search under subscription services. This opens a sequential keyword search of the more than 1.46 million full text records in the AED. Next compose a database query, any query. Each term on the keyword line will be searched as an independent keyword search. Here is an example: "We, the daring flyer's remarkable life story and his account of the transatlantic flight that shook the world" by Charles Lindbergh, 1927, the signed edition. One thousand copies were issued in this version.

But before we go further you need to write down YOUR estimate of current value please: _____. No cheating please!

The terms I use to search the AED are:

Lindbergh by itself finds 246 matches [Lindbergh]
Adding the date range 1927 to 1927 reduces the matches to 46 [Lindbergh] [1927 in date field]
Adding We leaves the total unchanged at 46 [Lindbergh We] [1927 in date field]
Adding the term Signed reduces the total to 27 [Lindbergh We signed] [1927 in the date field]

Now I sort them out. After eliminating manuscripts and other material that is similar but not identical we have 10 records. The average current value is $1,366.16, the highest adjusted price a copy sold in 1984 for $800 that today is valued at $2,805 and a copy comes up at auction on average every 18 months. AE Footnote

How close were you?

Now let's run the same search on Abe to see if they have copies from this 1,000 copy run. They do. There are four listed, all identified by their "No. -- of 1000." They range in price from $2,500 to $4,500 with an average asking price of $3,487. On Abe all prices are asking prices.

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