March 1, 2016
Your old Harry Potter books are worth $$$ (maybe)
by Liam O’Brien
Look around you. Yes, you. The odds are, there’s a Harry Potter book within ten feet.
Coming along just before the ebook boom, J.K. Rowling’s immortal series lives on in our hearts and minds. It also lives on in the form of millions of used copies that litter the landscape of this fair nation and many others, rivaling the Gideon Bible for ubiquity and usefulness. It’s hard to sell used Harry Potter books! Not just because you might read them again to recapture that childlike sense of wonder, but also because the market is flooded. Peep any used children’s bookstore discount racks to see this play out in real time.
But there is hope. Abebooks.com (an Amazon company) has just released a helpful guide to determining if your old Harry Potter books are a goldmine.
The AbeBooks online marketplaces has sold hundreds of copies of Rowling’s books at high prices, including a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that sold for £26,700. Do you have a valuable Harry Potter gathering dust under your bed?
Demand for collectable Harry Potters has not decreased even though the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published in 2007. The movies, Rowling’s high profile, and her non-Potter novels (The Casual Vacancy,The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil) have kept interest alive.
One simple guideline to collecting Potter books: anything signed by JK Rowling has significant financial value. A book signed by one of the illustrators is much less valuable.
You hear that, illustrators? You’re not that special! The guide runs through the most valuable versions of each of the seven books, and includes helpful hints. For instance, if you still have a ticket or wristband to a J.K. Rowling signing event, that can up a signed copy’s value even higher. The “holy grail” for collectors, is, naturally, first edition/first printings of Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, which was retitled for American audiences thanks to the death of the academy.
And for those of you who can’t stand to read (which, if true, why are you here?) Abebooks.com has a handy video tutorial:
Of course, for some readers there’s no amount of money that can pay for the sentimental value of their old Harry Potter book. Still, those readers should check to see if their books are collectible, so they can at least slip them into a plastic bag or something. They’ll want them to be in good condition on the chance that they need to sell them for plane fare to read the next Harry Potter book, which (we assume) will be a 2-hour piece of performance art that can only be viewed once atop a remote mountain, coming Fall 2019.
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.