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BookThink Special Report
What Oprah Means to You
as a Bookseller
Part I

by Judy Lanskey

#129, 3 November 2008

When Oprah Winfrey recently chose The Story of Edgar Sawtelle as selection #62 in her book club series, the value of first edition copies, especially signed copies, shot up overnight. This made us wonder if some of her previous selections might also have value. After eliminating the non-fiction titles and doing some research, I have determined that first editions of the following Oprah selections do indeed have bookselling worth (minimum of $20 current value). [EDITOR'S NOTE: Part II of this list will appear next month.]

The prices listed are the current lowest value that I could find for an unsigned first edition/first printing on either ABE or Amazon. Please bear in mind that, as is the case with most collectible books, you should not pick up anything less than VG/VG and preferably F/F. With hypermoderns, do not bother picking up anything without a dust jacket. We also suggest that you immediately protect dust jackets in Mylar or equivalent sleeves to prevent damage. In the cases where the selection was a classic, some of these do have value even in early printings and without dust jackets.

#62: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (Ecco, 2008)

#60 The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Wm. Morrow & Co., 1989)

#59 Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Knopf, 1988)

#58 Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002)

#57 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf, 2006)
Comments: Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Also, according to IMDB, a movie based on this novel will be released on November 26, 2008.

#56 Night by Elie Wiesel (Hill and Wang, 1960)
Comments: This seems to be a very scarce title in the first printing state. The copy I found at $350 on Abe stated that it was a later printing. I did see one set of the trilogy listed on Abe at $4,250 (Night is the first volume in the trilogy of books: Night, Dawn and The Accident). Also, there was a British edition, also published in 1960 by MacGibbon & Kee. The only British first I found is listed on Abe for $390. More good news on this title: The Easton Press leatherbound edition has good value, either singly at $95, or as a three volume set at upwards of $300.

#54 A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (Wm. Morrow, 1989)
Comments: Although this is non-fiction title, I opted to include it due to the controversy surrounding the truth of certain events in the memoir, which makes this book something of a collectible. The publishers and author have included a statement on the dust jacket and in the book, on all printings subsequent to April 15, 2006, regarding the alteration and embellishment of certain events in the book.

#53 A Summer of Faulkner: As I Lay Dying / The Sound and the Fury / Light in August
Comments: This compilation is not a collectible item or particularly valuable as issued in this form; however, the specific novels by Faulkner are hugely collectible as first editions:

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith, 1930) Link
Comments: I found a first edition/first state printing listed for $10,000 on Abe. This title was issued with a dust jacket.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith, 1929)
Comments: The lowest priced first edition/first printing with a DJ is listed on Abe for $8,000. Without the dust jacket, I found an F starting at $3,000. The first British edition, issued by Chatto and Windus in 1930, also has high value. The lowest priced unsigned first (with dust jacket) that I could find is listed on Abe at $3,000. Early printings of both the American and the British first are worth hundreds of dollars, especially dust jacketed copies. Also, Easton Press and Franklin Library leatherbound copies of this title are well worth picking up with some copies listed in the $100 range.

Light in August by William Faulkner (Harrison Smith & Robert Haas, 1932)
Comments: Prices for a dust jacketed F/F on Abe range from $550 (facsimile dust jacket) to a high of $15,000. Unjacketed F copies dip to $58 on Abe, and third printings without the jacket dip to $35. Still, worth picking up. This title was also published in the UK by Chatto & Windus, 1933. I did not find any jacketed copies of the first, but those lacking a dust jacket range from $57 to $228 on Abe. In this case, too, Easton Press and Franklin Library editions are worth picking up, ranging from a low of $50 to a high of $209.

#52 The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (The John Day Company, 1931)
Comments: The first edition of this Pulitzer Prize winning book is exceptionally difficult to find with a dust jacket. The most expensive copies on Abe are: $2500 for the first UK edition, London, Methuen and Co. (1931), with a dust jacket; $1750 for a John Day first, bound in morocco. The only trade edition firsts that I found were jacketless and run from a high of $575 to a low of $60. In the first printing state the following error is found: Page 100, line 17, the third word is "flees" rather than "fleas." "For The John Day Publishing Company" appears on the title page verso, and the book has a brown top stain. I found a link to a first edition copy listed by Manhattan Rare Book Co. for $8,000, but even this copy admits a green top stain rather than the first state brown. This is another book worth picking up in the Easton and Franklin versions, and I found a Grosset & Dunlap 1931, jacketed 2nd printing for $350.

#51 Anna Karenina. In Eight Parts, by Leo Tolstoy (American First, Thomas Crowell 1886, Translated by Nathan Haskell Dole. Issued in blue, green and brown cloth with no established priority.)
Comments: The true first, Russian edition, of this title was issued in three volumes in 1878. I found one set of those offered at $30,000 at Manhattan Rare Books, and another on Abe for $17,900.

It is worth picking up this book in the Easton Press version, Franklin Library edition, and the Modern Library Giant edition, any one of which should bring in close to $100 or better. There are also higher-dollar fine press editions issued by the Folio Society and the Limited Editions Club.
Link (American First)

#50 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (Houghton Mifflin, 1940)
Comments: Abe has a signed first edition listed at $17,000; the next unsigned first printing in a dust jacket is listed at $2950. I found a VG, jacketless copy of the first printing at $250 and an Easton listed at $70. There is also a 1967 facsimile edition issued by the First Edition Library that can bring in around $35 to $40, depending upon condition. This book was the basis for the 1968 movie of the same name starring Alan Arkin and Sondra Locke.

#49 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Harper & Row, 1970)
Comments: First published in Spanish in 1967, the first English-language edition is the American first, NY, Harper and Row, 1970. Written by the Nobel prize winning Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the novel combines elements of history, magical realism and fiction. The highest priced copy for a first edition/first printing in a first state dust jacket (unsigned) is $6,000. Apparently, it is difficult to find this title in the first state dust jacket, which has an exclamation point at the end of the first sentence on the inner dust jacket flap. There is also a UK edition, Jonathan Cape, also published in 1970. This is worth picking up, along with Easton Press and Folio Society editions.

#48 Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948)
Comments: A signed first printing is offered on Abe for $750.00, followed by an unsigned first printing with a dust jacket at $425. There is also a UK edition, Jonathan Cape, also published in 1948 that is worth picking up, as is a Franklin Library edition. First novel by this author.

#47 East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Viking Press, 1952)
Comments: Although there was a limited edition of this book, the most expensive unsigned trade edition I find on Abe is $2500, ranging down to about $40 for a first state book without a dust jacket. There is also a UK first edition, William Heinemann, London, 1952 that should bring in $200+, as will the Easton Press edition.

#46 Sula by Toni Morrison (Knopf, 1974)
Comments: This is the author's second book. Setting aside signed copies, which fetch up to $3,000, the lowest price on Abe for a jacketed, unsigned first printing is $950 ranging down to $50 for an ex-library copy. There is also a UK first edition, London, Allen Lane, 1974 that is listed on Abe from $350 down to $53.

#45 Fall On Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald (Jonathan Cape, 1996) $48

#43 The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)

#42 Cane River by Lalita Tademy (Warner Books, 2001)

(To be continued.)

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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