Collected Books 2002 (Collected Books: The Guide to Values) Hardcover – 1 Dec 2001
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788 pages with details of over 20,000 collected books
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is NOT three things - reminders that the serious collector must, inevitably, accept the need for a number of references which will have some overlap.
It is not a guide to identifying first editions - often a challenge for the large number of pubishers who do not clearly indicate 1st ed status. For this I'd highly recommend McBride's pocket guide. It also isn't really a guide to "modern" first editions, at least those that are in the $30-$100 value range. You may find Uris or Ludlum's first two books here but not their 3rd or 5th. It MAY make a difference to you whether such a title is really worth the $30 a dealer is charging. For these books I recommend Lee's "20th Century First Edition Fiction." It is not merely a listing of authors' first books, although it includes those... for that, and a wider range of midprice authors, their "Book Collecting 2000" is great. .....
Once you know what the book is not, you can determine if it is for you. The five-star rating applies to those buyers with a serious interest in collecting (or thinking about collecting) the roughly 20,000 most valued books. It includes all the good stuff. Where necessary it lists details of first-edition "points", the subtle details of identification that, for some books, distinguish earlier from later states. Alternate editions such as American and UK or limited or special editions are also priced separately. It is a useful, even entertaining, reference for the serious collector. Someday the online databases and search engines may supplant references like this (I do use them more often) but if you're a bibliophile your prime reference on books just has to be a book.
I will not even touch on the price accuracy. I am a book dealer and have strong opinions about pricing and valuation. For the collectors trying to evaluate their collection just know that a book is worth exactly and only what someone is willing to pay. This amount can go up or down but a book's value is determined at the time of sale.
So if prices are constantly in flux, and value is really determined by the particulars of a transaction, why should you buy this book? Mostly because very high end books are listed. For example, two of ten folios from James O. Lewis' Aboriginal Portfolio came up at a local auction house and there were none on the Internet at that time. The single source at my disposal that had information on this work was Collected Books. It was also useful in telling me that the American first edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in my possession preceded the British first - unusual for a work by a British author in 1885-6. This is tough information to come by for free on the Internet.
You see, book dealers are tight with their knowledge and that is the other main reason to purchase this book. With pricing information easily available on the Internet, the only advantage we have are bibliographic details and memorization of vast numbers of books. The Ahearns have given you a valuable tool if you wish to learn the nooks and crannies of the high end book trade. Specific "points" - oddities which identify various states of a print run - are faithfully listed in this book and these are impossible to know without reference material. But beyond the bibliographic tidbits and very high end price info, this book is of limited value. The honest truth is most people who buy this book could much more easily find values by comparing prices on the Internet, because the books they have are probably not as rare as they think.
In the back of Collected Books there is a selected bibliography of reference works. Specific bibliographies are often for first edition identification, and Collected Books is no replacement for your Zempel guide. So use this book for judging the price of very rare and expensive books which rarely make it to the market or for looking up bibliographic points if you do not have better resources. Read the author's introduction, and the "Using This Guide" chapter before you dare look at prices. Many customers have made a total and complete ass of themselves by not knowing the preeminent importance of condition in the rare book world. This book is of specific and limited value, just know what you are getting into.
I purchased the most recent edition of "Collected Books" thinking that at last I would be able to unravel the mystery. I was so excited when I received the book before the long holiday weekend thinking I would pore over all my books and perhaps find some plums. Was I ever disappointed to find that my Christmas stocking was filled with coal.
Rather than help you identify a first edition, the book is a comprehensive list of those high end first edition books. This book is for those serious collectors rather than the novice who may have a book in their collection worth wrapping in Milar and storing in a safe place. In fact, the authors recommend other reference books if you are interested in more detailed information on identifying first editions.
My rating is really meaningless because I don't feel qualified to pass on the merits of this book. I assume it is a grand book for the serious collector. However, since this was a very expensive faux pas on my part, I wanted to let others know that this book is not helpful if you are only interested in cracking that allusive "code" publishers use to identify first editions.
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