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Old Oct 30, 2010, 10:58 PM   #1
reidgold
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Numismatic book market

Just for fun, I took a look around just now for the pricing of Martin Jessop Price's two-volume standard The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus, published in 1991. This little exercise shed some interesting light I think on the numismatic book market, and I discovered a venue or two I didn't previously know about that appear to be of questionable legal status.

First, background: I bought my copy some years ago, used, from John Lavender, a knowledgeable dealer/numismatist and all-around good guy. I made a bit of mistake, though, in the deal. John asked me what I'd be willing to pay. Instead of trying to turn this around and ask John what he'd be willing to sell it for, I gave him a price, and he agreed. Only a few weeks after the book arrived from John, an ad appeared in the Celator from the co-publisher, the Swiss Numismatic Society, offering the book new for $275, which included postage to the U.S. This was somewhat lower than what I paid John for my lightly used copy. I had mistakenly assumed that as a result of my not finding the book for sale new anywhere in the U.S. that it was out of print, but it wasn't. To his credit, John offered to refund me the difference. I declined, saying a deal was a deal but thanking him for his kindness.

The reality though is that the price of numismatic books once they're out of print typically skyrockets. Here are some examples of what this book by the late Martin Price is currently selling for. This is provided for informational purposes only, with no value judgments implied, for the most part. Different sellers no doubt obtained this, as with other material, for different prices.

* Charles Davis is selling new copies for $600 on VCoins and for $675 on AbeBooks.com.
* Sayles & Lavender on VCoins is selling a used copy for $375 and a lightly used copy for $725.
* MyFirstEditions is selling what appears to be the same used copy for $1,675 on Alibris.com, AbeBooks.com, and BN.com (Barnes & Noble) and for $1,895 on Amazon.com.
* djpens2 is selling a new copy for $895 on Amazon.com.
* Andromeda Books of Greece is selling a new copy for €386 or the equivalent of $540 (shipping charges unknown).
* RapidDigger appears to have offered free downloads in the past of a scan of the book, of questionable legal status, with the files currently deleted.
* Info4hobby.com is offering downloads of PDF copies of questionable legal status for $6.99. It says it obtains its material from "open sources." As far as I know Price is very much still under copyright and not in the public domain. By "open sources" perhaps Info4hobby.com means libraries. Hmmm. Info4hobby.com says that its products can be used only for "fact-finding purposes" and that afterward they must be "removed." I'm not a lawyer, but ...
* WorldCat displays libraries near you where you can look through the book, as with other books, before deciding whether or not to buy.
* The ANA library will mail ANA members the book to look at for the price of round-trip Media Mail postage and insurance.
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Last edited by reidgold : Oct 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM.
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Old Nov 2, 2010, 03:09 AM   #2
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Very interesting, thanks a lot!
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Old Nov 11, 2010, 05:26 AM   #3
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I bought my set for $300 plus shipping. After the sets weren't selling all that well, much to my amazement, I think it was CNG that reduced the price to $200 for a relatively short time.

The set is a sine qua non for collectors and students of the coinages of Alexander III and Philip III.

Paul Withers, a coin and book dealer and publisher, remarked to me how often he has seen an important reference book take a long time to sell out and then been beseiged by requests for the book right after it goes out-of-print.

Ah, human nature.

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Old Nov 11, 2010, 06:32 AM   #4
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I can comment on the book being more expensive at www.abebooks.com. That's a great website to search for out-of-print and antiquarian titles, but be aware that they do charge a fee for dealers who successfully sell something there. Thus, dealers increase listed prices for items at abebooks, to cover the cost of this fee. I have noticed before, that if a seller has something offered at abebooks, and also has their own website, then usually that same item will be offered at their website for a lesser price.
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Old Nov 18, 2010, 04:53 AM   #5
mmarotta
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Austrian Economics

It is axiomatic that we all want to pay the least possible. Typically, the seller makes the initial offer, though the buyer may. You can always make an offer. Asking price is only that. These are folkways, not laws.

The value you derive from a purchase is always a factor. If you get $180,000 of generated value, it makes little difference if you paid $1800 or $600 many years earlier, granted as above that the $1200 difference could have been put to other uses, the value derived may, after all, be those "other uses."

What a book can sell for may be the more interesting question. Like much else in life, used coin books bring little return to the collector. Aaron Feldman said, "Buy the book before you buy the coin." and was greatly disappointed in the auction of his own library. I paid $300 for Poey d'Avant from John Burns and he would not even make an offer when I asked if he wanted to buy it. As far as I can tell, the 3-volume set has no value.

A while back, I arranged a class called "Captialism for Kids" and for that I bought three copies of Karl Hess's book by that title from three different sellers on Amazon. One of them never arrived. That only increased the admittedly low prices of the other two. So, no matter how low that initial offer, as the book never arrived, the price was irrelevant.

Largely, I believe that price is unimportant. Value is everything.
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Old Nov 18, 2010, 01:08 PM   #6
El Reye
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Well, there is also the likely hood that they might do a reprint, and the value will drop to the current published price.

Cameron
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 03:54 PM   #7
mmarotta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Reye View Post
Well, there is also the likely hood that they might do a reprint, and the value will drop to the current published price. Cameron
Right, as far are pure supply and demand go. Bibliophiles do pay more for first editions and first printings. I have a 1947 Red Book. According to Frank Colletti, I have a second printing, not worth quite as much as the rarer first run.

But, agreed, as for instance, the new reprints and in electronic format of Dalton and Hamer's The Provincial Token-Coinage of the 18th Century the standard reference to what we Americans call "Conder" Tokens. If you want a first edition, fine, but after that, almost any printing is about the same. About ten years ago, Davisson's took two nice copies, cut them up for plates and reprinted the book yet again, and sold out, of course. The new electronic "publication" on CD is convenient, as this not a Summer Read, but the kind of book in which you do Searches.

So, too, then with the Ancients. I have Mattingly on Romans and, yes, that is a reading book. But Sear Greek Coins and Their Values is the kind of book begging for an electronic delivery.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 06:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarotta View Post
Like much else in life, used coin books bring little return to the collector.
That may apply to some coin books, most perhaps, but others bring handsome returns -- four figures, five figures, even six figures. One used coin book, Imperatorum romanorum libellus. Una cum imaginibus, ad vivam effigiem expressi, published in 1526, previously part of the library of bibliophile Jean Grolier, was sold in 2005 for the equivalent of $130,000, according to E-Sylum, and I believe this figure is without buyer's fee.
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