Rare Books and the Hedge Fund Business
Ever so often I come across a price for my books that make me wonder if my publisher would be better off doing a print run of 500 and not send them to the bookstores. In fact, he should prohibit bookstore distribution of any book I write.
What gives? Why would any author want their publisher to horde books? Keep them in a secret stash and just put a couple of feelers out that something really valuable can be had for a mere eight hundred quid.
The laws of economics apply to books like they apply to most other things for which there are sellers and buyers. It seems that the more scarce a book is the higher the price it commands.
Take Spirit House the first Vincent Calvino novel, was published in 1992. You can now find reprints (not first editions mine you as those are kept in secure safety deposit boxes in the Jersey Islands) for sale on amazon.co.uk
Let’s ignore those cheap copies for £70.32 and go straight to the high end copies for real investors that with a price tag of £746.95 and £837.75.
Okay, let’s do the math. 500 x £837.75 = £418,875 so my royalty would come to £41,887.50.Where’s my cheque? Hmmm. Seems the publisher has a different accounting system. No surprise there.
I am waiting for a private equity fund or hedge fund to come around an offer for the books I’ve got on my shelf. Obviously there is a collectors market for books. Maybe collectors read books or maybe they should buy them hoping there is an upside so they can resell at a fat profit. But this indeed a strange, Alice and Wonderland World where second hand copies of my books are more expensive than a return London/Bangkok/London economic air ticket.
So next time you are thinking about picking up one my books, remember this is more than just a reading decision you are making. When you look at the front cover, remember this book could become part of your pension fund. Don’t buy one; buy half a dozen and lay them down like wine.
In fact, at this rate, I may not give the next novel to my publisher. I’ll have 50 copies printed, kick back, and way for the £41,887.50 to roll in.
On the other hand, you would think some publisher with green eye shades and a freshly minted MBA hanging on the wall of her office, would want to publish the books in the UK or England. On the other hand, that’s obviously a mug’s game. Just get into the market early, buy in a 100 copies, and flip them down the road for a handsome product. No need to get the hands dirty with contracts, advances, catalogue copy, author tours, marketing and promotion. Get straight down to the bit of large money coming in with no effort or work.