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>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 14. [CRIMEAN WAR] HAMLEY. <i>The Story of the Campaign of Sebastopol.</i> 1855. £150 to £200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 17. JONGH & D'ALMEIDA. <i>L’armee Russe...</i> c.1898. Colour plates and many illustrations. £500 to £600
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 18. [RUSSIA] LE PRINCE. <i>Oeuvres. 1782.</i> Rare folio format with 80 etchings and 74 aquatints. £4000 to £6000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 21. [RUSSIA] MORNAY. Set of 8 hand-coloured aquatints of carriages, sleighs and occupants. c.1825. £1200 to £1800
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 33. BOWDICH. <i>Excursions in Madeira and Porto Santo.</i> 1825. A fine copy. £800 to £1200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 37. QUIN. <i>An Historical Atlas.</i> 1836. 2nd edn, 21 hand-coloured maps revealing civilisation. £800 to £1200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 39. LE BRUN. <i>Voyages [...] par la Moscovie, en Perse...</i> 1718. 300+ engravings, panorama. £4500 to £5500
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 48. BRIERLY. <i>The English and French fleets in the Baltic.</i> 1855. Colour lithographs. £7000 to £9000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 60. DELLA VALLE. <i>Reise Beschreibung... in Turckey, Egypten, Palestina[...].</i> 1674. £1500 to £2000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 77. MURRAY, Mrs. Watercolour Album of Heaths. c.1860. 55 original watercolours. £750 to £1000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 91. ADDISON. <i>Works...</i> 1721. 4 vols, large paper copy, English red morocco. £2500 to £3500
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 96. HOLBEIN. Imitations of original drawings. 1792-1800. Exceptional copy. £4000 to £6000
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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