Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2014 Issue

A Second Bookseller Goes “Public”

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From the Bookbarn website.

Turning to the public markets for funding of businesses in the selling of old books seems to be gaining some steam, at least in England. In May, Scholium Group, whose main business is Shapero Rare Books, went public with an offering on the London Stock Exchange. This past month, it was Somerset bookseller Bookbarn International that made the move. However, the Bookbarn offering is nothing like that of Scholium. Their offering is less than 1% the size of Scholium's, and their shares will not be listed on the London Stock Exchange, nor anywhere else.

 

Bookbarn has elected to raise funds through a website called “Crowdcube.” It provides a public forum where anyone can invest in a company, but the investments are more akin to venture capital than stock market investing. I'm not sure such a program would even be legal in the United States, with its various reporting regulations designed to protect investors buying in the open market. What Crowdcube provides is a way for small-time investors, and I do mean small-time, to invest in small businesses. Investments can be as low as £10 (about $17 in U.S. currency). Good luck finding a venture capitalist interested in making a $17 investment. Of course, you could go public and offer shares on a stock exchange for less than $17 each, as did Scholium, but the cost of registration statements and everything else needed for a market offering is more than the total amount Bookbarn will raise.

 

The way Crowdcube works is you go to their page for Bookbarn, and it allows you to make an investment of any size starting at £10. As of June 30, they had so far raised £34,550 from 57 investors, the largest single investment being £5,000. Bookbarn's target is £75,000, with the Crowdcube rules providing that the investments will be returned if the goal is not met. In return for the £75,000, Bookbarn is offering investors 6% of the company. In other words, they have valued the company at £1,250,000 (roughly US $1.7 million). In comparison, the Scholium offering was for £8 million (for roughly 60% of the company), giving it a value of £13.2 million, or about US $21.9 million, at the time of the offering.

 

A public offering of this type does not provide the level of protection of one on a public stock market. There is not the level of regulation and information that must be given potential buyers on a stock exchange. This is more of a flyer for small investors to take a minor interest in start up or other small companies. Additionally, an investor's share of such a company is illiquid. Crowdcube allows buyers to sell to other Crowdcube buyers, but this is not like a public stock exchange where there are shares being bought and sold everyday. You may have a hard time selling your share if you want your money back. This type of investment is really more appropriate for someone who likes a particular company, wants to be a part owner, and thinks maybe it will one day be a big success and provide a good return. One should not invest through a platform like Crowdcube if the security of your investment is a high priority. The risk level is very high.

 

In its press release, Bookbarn's owners said they believe Bookbarn “is the largest seller of antiquarian, rare and collectable books in the world,” which seems a stretch. They say they have 30 full and part-time staff and a 38,000 square foot warehouse. They sell on “19 different e-commerce platforms around the world, including a major government-owned distributor in China.”

 

The Crowdcube offering can be found at the following link:  www.crowdcube.com/investment/bookbarn-international-15675. We make no recommendation of this offering and advise anyone considering an investment to read the risk warning carefully.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <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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