All of the books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series are highly collectible. But a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, initially published in the UK in 1997, is the Holy Grail for serious book-collecting muggle (the book was retitled as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in US). Only 500 were published, if you can believe that (talk about having faith in a new author!), and of those 300 were shipped to libraries. Interestingly, the author is indicated as Joanne [Kathleen] Rowling. So how valuable is the book? Would you believe $37,000! Really! She should shove that number in the face of the reps of 12 publishing houses that rejected her first manuscript.
In August 2005, a book collector who wishes to remain anonymous, lacking an actual invisibility cloak, purchased the first edition Harry Potter book on AbeBooks. The sale broke a record that remains today — it is the highest price paid for a single Harry Potter book on the AbeBooks website. In a fascinating interview with the editors of AbeBooks, Mr. X, as he is called, shares his passion for books: “I have a background in writing and I would not have read the Harry Potter books if they were not well done. I find it very hard to read fiction nowadays… I own over 600 books,” he said. “The first editions I own are those by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Burroughs was a great read for me as a nine-year-old. I have all of the books in his Mars and Venus series, as well as a complete Pellucidar collection. My Tarzan collection is by no means complete, however.” Asked why he was willing to pay so much for a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Mr. X replied, “That’s difficult to say. I had read it and I had looked at the prices on the Internet and I thought it would be a good thing to have. I had thought about buying a US first edition but I finally thought I’d do it because it would be such a good investment. There was an element of fun involved. It’s very hard to explain the feeling of elation when you realize you own this particular book. Naturally, I did my research before buying the book. I researched the numbers of the first edition and identified that only 500 were printed and most were sent to libraries where they were more than likely trashed. I also researched the bookseller thoroughly and discovered that they were a member of certain rare bookselling associations and realized they were bound by codes of conduct. They were totally legitimate. There was an element of the unknown because they were on the other side of the world… I believe the value will keep growing. I don’t think that we will realize a profit from the book in my lifetime but I feel a certain joy in seeing its value increase. In the meantime, the book is well protected and very well insured.”
Mr. X believes that the Harry Potter series not only encouraged reading, but launched a new generation of book collectors; he adds “The children who have read the books will grow up and some of them will become book collectors — in 50 years time, it will be these people who will want to own rare copies of the books and they will be looking to buy them.” So for book loving muggles who are reading this, start saving up your allowance, wages, and cash gifts to buy these really sought-after and pricey Harry Potter first editions.
For further reading: https://www.abebooks.com/books/harry-potter/valuable-harry-potter.shtml?cm_mmc=nl-_-nl-_-C170626-MRC-harrypAMRARE-_-b41cta&abersp=1