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

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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