Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2012 Issue

2012 In Review: Borders Liquidates, Sendak Dies, Digital Eats Print

1 borders close

Borders books completed its liquidation.

Any way you measure it 2012 was a difficult and transitional years for books including publishing and book selling Be it new or used, popular titles or antiquarian rarities, the transition from print to digital accelerated. A host of electronic tablets, pads, mobile phones and readers like iPad, Kindle and Nook all showed strong upward trend lines and made ever greater inroads into the territory once occupied by the physical object – the book.

In the big picture of the whole collectible market the top sale of the year went to Munch’s 1895 work of art titled Scream which realized $119.9 million in May. That number was said to be more than the totals for all the book auctions in 2011 for both Christie's and Sotheby's combined.

The top selling publicly announced price paid for a book in 2012 was equally famous; it was Audubon’s Birds of North America which fetched over $7 million in January. Even that high point was down from a record $10 million paid only a few years ago.

Borders Liquidates, Barnes & Noble Falls, Amazon Thrives, Google Yo-Yos

This was a year that saw leading chain bookseller Borders complete liquidation of hundreds of stores and dispersal of thousands of employees. Its competitor in the retail book trade, Barnes and Noble, continued to struggle as it tried to adapt to the changing market place. A brief review of stock prices is instructive. Five years ago B&N stock was selling at $39 per share; at the end of November 2012 the price per share was just over $14.

As the market’s faith in conventional book retailing tanked, its bets on digital and e-book retailing grew ever stronger. Amazon stock, which sold for just over $90 in 2007, hit a high of $261 in Sept. 2012. Google, the mother ship of the whole trend to digitize book texts, went from a of high $693 in 2007, sunk to a low of $262 in Nov. 2008 and rebounded to high of $767 in Oct. 2012.

Still some bright spots

Little of this will come as news to AE readers. Many of those still in the book business as antiquarian or on-line sellers had a challenging year, but there were some bright spots too.

Other venues had some high points as well. ABE books, one of the leading databases for on-line book sellers reported on top sales monthly. Among the figures reported by ABE for 2012 were:

* $46,000 an inscribed first of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale

* $30,000 – Kafka’s Die Verwanglund (The Metamorphosis)

* $25,000 Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are

* $20,000 an Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

* $19,500 La Perrouse voyage

* Almost $17,000 a 17th century book on mushrooms

* $14,500 for Wydnham’s sci fi classic Day of the Triffids

* $12,500 for extremely limited edition of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses

* $9,700 for a Dali illustrated limited edition of Don Quijote

* $5,750 for a signed first trade edition of Steinbeck’s East of Eden

ABE also noted a number of books on cocktails and mixology made top prices

(For fuller ABE report see www.abebooks.com/books/RareBooks/collectible-expensive-highest-price-sold/most-expensive-sales.shtml)

On-line sales at eBay also demonstrated some strong highlights, with categories for antiquarian, antique, fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and cook books. Top sellers in a variety of book related categories included Fleming, Oz books, Hemingway, and the first issue of Playboy with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. (For more details browse the link what sells best on eBay www.whatsellsbest.com/best-ebay-live-book-auction.html)

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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