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Re: Did the Jackson movies increase the prices for rare Tolkien books?

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  • Jason Fisher
    Wendell, ... Even though I keep a fairly close eye on such things, it s still hard to know, really, because the editions that come up for sale regularly often
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 2, 2007
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      Wendell,

      > On a message board I read regularly, some people are claiming that the
      > prices for rare Tolkien books (things like the first edition of _The Lord of the
      > Rings_) went up considerably after the Peter Jackson films came out. Is this
      > true? Can anyone tell me how much the prices of such books went up?

      Even though I keep a fairly close eye on such things, it's still hard to know, really, because the editions that come up for sale regularly often aren't easily comparable. For example, a set of all first impressions of LotR sells for one price, a set of all second impressions goes for another, and a 10 / 7 / 6 set (like the one I own) sells for yet some other price. If you had examples of several sets of the same impressions both before and after the movies, it would be easier to say whether the movies really had an appreciable effect. Even then, condition varies quite a bit, and that probably accounts for variations in price much more often. Sometimes you have matching dustjackets, sometimes you don't; sometimes you have the original binding, sometimes you don't; some copies are ex-library, others aren't; and so on. And on top of that, there seems to be a lot of random fluctuation both up and down -- rather like the stock market.

      Yet having said that, I would say I think I saw a bit of a bump in the average prices (nothing I could quantify), which now seems to have more or less rebounded back to "normal". I don' think the prices went up and stayed up; at least, not more than they tend to go up every year just because of the increasing distance from their printing dates. But I can also tell you that speculation on a possible Hobbit movie has led to a bump in the prices for early printings of that novel as well. I happened to have one for auction, and I did much better than expected in the deal.

      P'raps he has something to sell, does he, yesss preciousss ... Ssss ... :)

      Jason Fisher
    • Oberhelman, D
      I have bought a number of rare (and not-so-rare) Tolkien books on Ebay on used dealer sites like Abebooks since the mid 90s, and think Jason s assessment is
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 2, 2007
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        I have bought a number of rare (and not-so-rare) Tolkien books on Ebay on used dealer sites like Abebooks since the mid 90s, and think Jason's assessment is about right for the market today. There are many fluctuations and peaks and valleys. There was a spike earlier in the decade on online sites, and were many first-time collectors started scrambling for "rare" volumes. Many also started to sell books that had been collecting dust on their shelves for years. The market on sites like Ebay has cooled somewhat, in general terms, but there still seems to be demand, though not as much as in 2001-2003. Long-time collectors who were collecting before the movies came out seem to have been sticking it out and have weathered the storm. I haven't checked Bookman's Price Index or American Book Prices Current for Tolkien books in the last few years, but they are fairly reliable indicators since they use auction house and reputable dealer prices. Some on this list such as Wayne would be the best experts to consult for long-term trends.



        Tomorrow I am going to visit an acquaintance who sells rare Tolkien books, and he says he's had a brisk business in the last few months. I'll ask him what he thinks of the market today in the post-Jacksonian era.



        Incidentally, the most expensive Tolkien book on Abebooks right now is a true first UK Hobbit (signed) for $166,452.96 (£82,500).



        David Oberhelman





        **************************************

        David D. Oberhelman

        Associate Professor

        Humanities-Social Sciences Division

        Oklahoma State University Library

        Stillwater, OK 74078

        Phone: (405) 744-9773 Fax: (405) 744-7579

        Email: d.oberhelman@...





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      • Wayne G. Hammond
        ... There are always fluctuations in the book market, driven by supply and demand and influenced by the general economy. The Tolkien market did indeed begin to
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 5, 2007
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          David Oberhelman wrote:

          >I have bought a number of rare (and not-so-rare) Tolkien books on Ebay on
          >used dealer sites like Abebooks since the mid 90s, and think Jason's
          >assessment is about right for the market today. There are many
          >fluctuations and peaks and valleys. There was a spike earlier in the
          >decade on online sites, and were many first-time collectors started
          >scrambling for "rare" volumes. Many also started to sell books that had
          >been collecting dust on their shelves for years. The market on sites like
          >Ebay has cooled somewhat, in general terms, but there still seems to be
          >demand, though not as much as in 2001-2003. Long-time collectors who were
          >collecting before the movies came out seem to have been sticking it out
          >and have weathered the storm. I haven't checked Bookman's Price Index or
          >American Book Prices Current for Tolkien books in the last few years, but
          >they are fairly reliable indicators since they use auction house and
          >reputable dealer prices. Some on this list such as Wayne would be the best
          >experts to consult for long-term trends.

          There are always fluctuations in the book market, driven by supply and
          demand and influenced by the general economy. The Tolkien market did indeed
          begin to heat up beginning just before the Jackson films, peaked for about
          a year, then began to cool to a current state of warmth. Pre-film hype gave
          sellers an incentive to bring more material into the market and created new
          Tolkien collectors, but as supply increases and a saturation point is
          reached, values will tend to moderate, and there are only so many buyers
          able to pay the highest prices. I would say that the market is back to its
          pre-Jackson level, except that rarer items in general command prices higher
          than before.

          Christina and I provide an overview of "Collecting and sales" in The J.R.R.
          Tolkien Companion and Guide.

          Wayne


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