Rare book prices skyrocket thanks to the Internet

The rise of online catalogs and aggregators of booksellers' stock meant more collectors are aware when a rare find came on the market.
The rise of online catalogs and aggregators of booksellers’ stock meant more collectors are aware when a rare find comes on the market.

Prices of the rarest books are rising as the Internet drives the trade off dusty shelves and into the digital age, a leading expert said this weekend.

Matthew Haley, head of the books, manuscripts and photographs department at auction house Bonhams in London, said the rise of online catalogs and aggregators of booksellers’ stock meant more collectors are aware when a rare find comes on the market.

“More people can find it, and there is only one of them around,” he told an audience at the Hay Festival, adding this was pushing prices of the rare and the one-off higher.

At the same time, demand was growing for what he termed “quirkiana:” books on specialist, niche topics.

“We see that the mid-rank is really the struggling area of the market, which in our terms would be books between £100 and £1,000,” Haley said.

Into this category he put books that, while rare, were not unique, and modern first editions, as potential purchasers can scour the web for other examples more easily than in the past.

With prices rising at the top and bottom of the market but easing in the middle, the overall value of the market was holding at up to $600 million a year, he said.

Haley said the outlook for second-hand bookshops, which he said were closing “at a tremendous rate,” was not good.

“I fear that we are going to see the end of the serendipity of browsing through a bookshop and finding a book you didn’t know you wanted,” he said.

He said some in the industry forecast digital books would outsell printed books in Britain in 2015. Yet the shift to digital publishing only made physical books more alluring to many people.

“There is no substitute for handling a book,” he said, adding many people still treasured the feel of crisp paper or the smell of an old volume.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.