About a month ago, Chris over at Stuff as Dreams are Made On wrote a great post about his favorite books from his personal collection. I’m still envious about the Mirrormask script that was sent to him in a “grab bag” from Subterranean Press. I never get lucky like that!
I have a very special favorite book. It’s a first edition Arkham House copy of The Outsider and Others by H. P. Lovecraft. It was published in 1939, and it’s quite rare.
It doesn’t have a dust jacket anymore and it’s pretty worn out, but it’s still worth about $1,500.00. If it were in excellent condition, like the above example, it would be worth around $10,000! I don’t collect books, but if I had known the value of this little gem, I wouldn’t have stolen it out of my father’s collection and toted it around with me during my high school days. This was another of my “show off” books, which, along with getting loaded, I was sure added to my “coolness” factor. What a total doof I was! Oooh, I read dark and scary fiction! I wanted to die! Oooh, oooh! Good God!
Lovecraft helped me graduate from college (well, not really, but it sounds good). Actually, he did in a way. I was so knowledgeable about ol’ Howard Phillips that I gave several speeches about him in various English classes, and I wrote my graduation essay about him. I’ve always thought that if I were to study any writer extensively for publication, it would be Lovecraft. I still enjoy his stories, even though the last time I read “The Dunwich Horror,” it seemed kind of silly. Maybe I was just in a bad mood.
Lovecraft is still a presence in my life. I have this bumpersticker on the rear window of my car:
I love it so much, I don’t think I’ll ever remove it!
I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, and was reminded of it yesterday when I was trolling the net searching for an out-of-print management book for my boss and a few of his cronies. The book was published in 2004 and it’s really dumb, but the upper crusters here in the workplace seem to love it. The price for a pristine hardback copy of this tiny little book now hovers around $130.00. I bought three used paperback copies for around $80.00. Unbelievable! This made me wonder what other 1st edition books are super valuable. Here are a few of them (all are approximations because they continually increase in value):
- Ulysses — James Joyce (Shakespeare & Company, 1922) $200,000
- The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner’s, 1925) $100,000
- The Maltese Falcon — Dashell Hammett (Knopf, 1930) $50,000
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Bloomsbury, 1997) $50,000 and rising rapidly!
It’s pretty unbelievable, don’t you agree?