Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2011 Issue

Emotionally Satisfying Investments:  Works on Paper

Price change over 100 years

For books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera: price change over 100 years

Arnoud Gerits, the President of ILAB, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, was interviewed recently in the Hong Kong Economic Times and mentioned that book collecting should be understood as a passion, not an investment.  He’s quoted on book collecting:

“ILAB does not recommend buying books as a financial investment.”  “Don’t buy them as an investment: it is the wrong angle to look at books. Buy them because you love books, you love a subject..."

Is he suggesting it’s not possible to both love books and buy them as investments?  Book collectors certainly believe their books are investments.

I thought it was common knowledge and so decided to contact collectors to see if their perspectives have changed.  They haven’t.  They still view and apparently always have viewed, these purchases as investments, albeit ones that mature slowly and are often pursued for ancillary benefits.   They did not go into collecting expecting to be buried in their books and do not expect it now. In fact, I haven’t found a single collector who subscribes to the “abandon hope all yea who enter here” approach implicit in the “don’t buy them as investments” idea.  Dealers always expect to make profits and Mr. Gerits seems to be saying collectors should not.  Collectors choose to invest in books because they have a passion for them, but they do not buy them believing they are costume jewelry.  They view them as long-term investments and over all but the last five years they have been.


Posted On: 2011-05-02 00:00
User Name: leigh

Whether books are a good investment is off the point. The question is whether it is a business. There are a number of people who consider it there live


Posted On: 2011-05-03 00:00
User Name: wormandcandy

Value is a concept. Books, portable recepticals of information, are now obsolete due to electronical storage/retrieval - altho a lot of info is


Posted On: 2011-05-03 00:00
User Name: PeterReynolds

I'm sure there will come a time when people will say "Wow! I've never seen one of those except on the computer/phone" and want to own the physic


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Adam Smith, <i>Wealth of Nations,</i> first edition, descended from William Alexander, London, 1776. $70,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> George Gershwin, photograph signed & inscribed with autograph musical quotation, <i>An American in Paris,</i> 1928. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Friedrich Engels, <i>The Condition of the Working Class in England,</i> first edition, NY, 1887. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> <i>Bury St. Edmunds Witch Trials,</i> first edition, London, 1682. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Robert Rey, <i>Estampes,</i> complete portfolio of 12 wood engravings, Paris, 1950. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Archive of 47 letters by Enrico Caruso to a lady friend, 1906-20. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Books of Hours in Flemish, Netherlands, 15th century. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Doctor Sax,</i> deluxe limited edition, signed, NY, 1959. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, July 30:</b> Walt Disney, signature on title-page of Ward Greene’s <i>Lady and the Tramp,</i> first edition, first printing. $3,000 to $4,000.

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