The third quarter of 2020 may have been a difficult quarter for most everything else, but it didn't discourage AbeBooks' higher-end buyers. The effect the pandemic would have on in-store sales was always obvious, but its impact on online sales was not so clear. Would people stuck at home buy more things online? Would job losses prevent them from buying? We don't know how Abe's overall sales have been doing, but a guess here is that people who can afford to pay five-digit book prices aren't hurting that much. Here are the Top 10 prices paid on AbeBooks for the months of July-September.
10. The Works of Sir Walter Scott. This is a set of 61 volumes printed in French and English at the Galignani Press in Paris that belonged to the Duchess of Berry in the 19th century. Scott may no longer be as popular as he once was, but he is hardly forgotten. This is price proof positive. $13,875.
9. Ulysses, by James Joyce. This is a Shakespeare & Co. first edition, fourth printing, from 1924. The copy was signed by Joyce at a dinner in 1927 and given to English journalist Eyre Macklin. $14,775.
7 tie. Limited editions of John Grisham novels. All signed by the author, published from 1993-2018. $15,000.
7 tie. Stars of Photoplay. Published in 1930 by Photoplay Magazine, it contains photos and biographies of 250 early movie stars. What is amazing is that its owner, radio singer Janice Clutterham, got 124 of the stars to sign their page. Among the signers are Jean Arthur, Mary Astor, Lew Ayres, Charlie Chaplin, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Marion Davies, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr., Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Laurel and Hardy, Myrna Loy, Paul Lukas, Jeanette MacDonald, Mary Pickford, William Powell, Will Rogers, Lillian Roth, and Eric von Stroheim. Wow! $15,000.
6. Emma, by Jane Austen. An 1816 first edition, bound by Zaehnsdorf. $16,750.
5. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. A 1957 first edition of the beat generation's defining work, with a laid in signature from Kerouac. $17,500.
4. Guggenheim, by Richard Hamilton. A piece of Hamilton's pop art, spray painted white and designed to mimic the front of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum. $18,000.
2 tie. The Vegetable, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Not Fitzgerald's best known work, nor a successful one. A comedic short story that was developed into Fitzgerald's only play. It bombed before ever reaching Broadway. This copy is signed and inscribed by the author. $20,000.
2 tie. Linda McCartney Life in Photographs. Published in 2011, 13 years after Linda McCartney died, this retrospective of her life and art was produced by her more famous husband, Paul McCartney, and her children. It was signed by McCartney (Paul naturally). $20,000.
1. The Lost World, by Michael Crichton. An unread 1995 first edition, signed by Steven Spielberg and ten actors from the film adaptation. $25,000.