Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Books, Used Sellers

Since this is a new blog (so to speak) I'll start off our endeavor with New Bookery.

I am not sure how much used & rare booksellers pay attention to new publications, but I bet it is more than many folks think. If you are a modern firsts person, that newly released Cormac MacCarthy novel is probably easiest to get signed or in a limited edition right when it comes out. Same way with science fiction (which I dearly love) if it is a limited edition from that fine (relatively) new publisher Subterranean Press. For reference works, like those wonderful tomes from Oak Knoll, again, earlier is sometimes cheaper.

For history, our focus at the shop, we notice more variance than the example above. Some subjects from publishers are printed in such small runs that to miss them when they first come out is to ensure a higher price down the road. IF you can find them later, that is. An subject example of this is medieval Spain, especially the more scholarly works. A number of publishers (Univ. of Pennsylvania, Princeton) have put out excellent studies of medieval Spanish royalty, but did not do paperback editions or keep the books in print very long. Most likely they thought the primary market for these books were university libraries and professors in medieval Spanish history. However, many of these scholarly books are actually interesting and readable without a PhD. So educated lay-people may also be interested in them as well. This ensures both scarcity and higher prices on the secondary market if you miss the book when it comes around.

Conversely, other scholarly books may drop in cost more quickly. WWII history from the from the Univ. of Kansas, or law enforcement history from Yale often fall to less than $10 with shipping on the inter-tubes less than a year after publication. This is in part due to the size of printing and/or to paperback editions being published simultaneously or shortly after the initial hardcover.

Used & rare bookseller do occasionally buy new books, especially if he bookseller has a subject focus. A few used & rare booksellers in our area (us included) will have signings or events for local authors with history books, who will certainly not be a huge draw at a Borders or Barnes & Nobles. Unsold copies of such books are rarely returned by us, as we know we will sell them out over the course of the coming months. We also often pay up front for a steeper discount, which makes everyone happy.

So, keep an eye on the new book market as well as the used one. The more specific a subject, the better the reputation of the author, and the greater likely hood of a small print run could signal a sleeper down the road. And it just might be good reading to boot.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home