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Are Collectible Books the Next Bubble?

Does the rise of used and collectible book sales portend the next bubble?


I’m reminded of the mid-90s when domain names were a novelty among the bulletin board geeklets, when one-syllable real words were lying around for the taking. Now a once-$60 domain that jumped to $600 can be found on the market for $6000. Record prices for some domains like are said to have gone for over $7 million. Demand and supply.

A venerable niche, the collectible and rare books trade is more and more getting slick marketing from mainstream booksellers and publishers.

Publishers Weekly’s Judith Rosen covered the rise in used book sales with an excellent report last summer and the market seems to be only expanding.

One case in point, instead of the usual blockbuster titles from B&N, my newsletter dropped today with B&N introducing readers to its rare and collectible marketplace. Not just for buyers. If you own inventory of 250 such books and have sold for a year, you might be able to partner with B&N to sell them for a reasonable commission.

I’m not saying all used/rare/collectible books will suddenly turn to gold, but print books are shrinking in supply and classic out-of-print editions only grow more rare.

You might say the rare/collectible and ordinary used book are different markets, true, but with changing reputations, headlines, nostalgia and trends, you never know when one woman’s used book is another’s treasure.