01 Aug 10 Books That Might Be Worth Some Money — That Might Already Be on Your Bookshelves
When was the last time you bought a book? If you’re just stopping in at your local bookstore, you might expect to pay somewhere between $10-$20 for the average book off the shelves, depending on whether it has a hardcover or is a paperback. It’s cheap enough that you probably didn’t really think anything of it. The value of a book tends to fluctuate once that initial purchase has been made. A book’s worth can either decrease to mere pennies or skyrocket to thousands of dollars, sometimes even tens or hundreds of thousands. Have you ever given much thought to the worth of the books you already own? As it turns out, there are a few books you might find on your shelf that are actually worth a pretty penny. Several of them, in fact.
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was first published in 1925. It tells the story of the self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby and his pursuit of Daisy Buchanan, the woman he loved when he was younger. The book has since been turned into movies and plays. While even a first edition copy isn’t going to turn you into a millionaire like Gatsby, it can put a few thousand dollars in your pocket. A first edition copy of this book can easily be worth somewhere in the realm of $12,500. If it’s signed or if it has handwritten corrections to typos, it could be worth as much as $100,000.
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was published in 1847. It follows Jane Eyre through her life, from living with her cruel aunt to her experiences in school and then to her love for Mr. Rochester, who, though still married, wishes to have a life with Jane. Like most books, first edition copies are worth the most. Ones that are in good condition can sell for $15,000-$65,000. That’s quite a range, but the most expensive one on the market is valued at $125,000 and comes with a Calcutta Review advertisement.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
While most books are valuable because of their age, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling isn’t one of them. In fact, it was first published in 1997, making it the youngest book on our list. This beloved story follows Harry Potter’s adventures after he discovers that he is a wizard and goes off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It may seem a little funny to think that mistakes make a book worth more, but it’s true. First edition copies of this book with errors have been sold for as much as $185,000. If you have a first edition copy, look to see if there are mistakes in the book. Some have misspellings of the word “Philosopher’s,” written instead as “Philospher’s.” Harry’s list of school supplies may list “1 wand” twice on page 53. Check the print line. If it reads “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” and contains those mistakes, you may have something of real value on your hands. Of course, being signed by the author can also boost the value of the book.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
If you love mysteries, The Hound of the Baskervilles may be floating around your bookshelves somewhere. Written by Arthur Conan Doyal and initially published in 1902, it is arguably the best-known adventure of the detective Sherlock Holmes. In this story, Sherlock is hired to solve the mystery of the supernatural hound that plagues the Baskerville family. A first-edition copy with its jacket can be worth $25,000.
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a book that has been much beloved by women of all ages, and for good reason. Jane Austen’s most well-known book, published in 1813, follows the Bennet sisters, focusing primarily on the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as it transitions from being quite antagonistic to romantic, along with the awkward stumbles along the way. It features characters that are relatable no matter what decade the reader finds themselves in. This book’s popularity can be matched by the value of some of its copies. One was sold at an auction for a stunning $172,555 in 2010.
Dracula by Bram Stoker is considered an epistolary novel. The story is told through a series of diary entries, newspaper articles, and letters. In this novel, a solicitor named Jonathan Harker stays with Count Dracula during a business trip. During his stay, he discovers that Dracula is a vampire and escapes. Dracula then moves to England, where Abraham Van Helsing eventually kills him. First edition copies can be sold for $40,000, though one copy has sold for $75,000. That copy was given to Frank A. Munsey, an American publisher, and was signed by Stoker.
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming is the first of the James Bond novels and was published in 1953. This adventure, which introduced Bond to the world, saw him sent on a mission to France to bankrupt a Russian agent known only as “Le Chiffre,” an important target to the British Secret Service. Signed first editions in pristine condition can be worth as much as $150,000. If not personalized, they can go for $145,000.
Live and Let Die
Casino Royale isn’t the only valuable Bond book. Live and Let Die is the second book in the Bond saga. This book, published in 1954, finds the hero in New York City, where he is in pursuit of Mr. Big, who is suspected of selling 17th-century gold coins to fund Soviet spy operations in the United States. It’s not quite as valuable as Casino Royale, but it’s still far from worthless. A first edition copy that is in good condition can be sold for around $35,000.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s books have enjoyed immense popularity over the years. The most recent one to be turned into a film, The Hobbit, was published in 1937. This beloved book was intended to be a children’s book and recounts the adventures of Bilbo Baggins as he accompanies a group of dwarves on their quest to reclaim their home and their treasure. An unsigned first edition can fetch a solid $20,000, while signed copies have been sold for $50,000-$60,000.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Like the prequel story, The Lord of the Rings trilogy can also be quite valuable. These books tell the story of Frodo Baggins as he sets out, along with eight companions, on a quest to destroy a powerful ring created by a dark lord that has the power to bring about the end of the world as they know it if it were to fall back into his hands. To see the most value, you need to have signed first edition copies of all three books: The Fellowship of the Ring (July 1954), The Two Towers (November 1954), and The Return of the King (October 1955). Altogether, and in this fashion, they can be worth up to $55,765. They’re still worth money even if they aren’t signed, though. If they are in good condition, the trilogy can still go for $40,000.
A little surprised at some of the numbers on the list? This is only a sampling of books on your shelf that may be worth a lot of money. Given what some of them might be worth, you might consider selling your valuable books online. After all, selling them is a much better use for them than letting them sit on your shelf, collecting dust from disuse.