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Ridiculous secondary prices for FS books

Folio Society devotees

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Edited: Feb 17, 2017, 11:12pm Top

As this topic went dormant in 2012, I thought I would start a new thread with this beauty on Abe:-
£250 for Folio 25.
Anyone else found any crazy prices (Island Books excepted - their prices are always ridiculous)?

Edited: Feb 18, 2017, 4:48am Top

>1 wcarter: £250 is crazy. I know not many Folio 25s were printed (433 according to Folio 50) but as it holds the same pages as Folio 21 plus Folio 1968-1971, the content is widely available.

Examples of silly pricing abound, including for Folios not yet OOP. If you feel the Folio RRP for The Man in the High Castle is demeaningly low at £29.95, you can choose to pay more than twice as much for the two non-shrinkwrapped copies available on abe, one offered by warehouse bookstore Boundless Books, the other by our friend who lives in his sea of eternal optimism.

As for some Fairy Book sellers, they've set up shop in LaLaLand.

Edited: Feb 18, 2017, 9:44am Top

>1 wcarter:

Surprisingly, when I looked more carefully at the entire Folio Society inventory for Island Books on abebook.com, it was a barbell phenomenon.

For FS book that have just been published and are easily obtainable on the FS website, or relatively recent books published within the past 1-2 years, their prices are egregious. They routinely double the FS price hoping to profit from the Greater Fool Theory.

By contrast, if one looks at their prices for older (2 or 3 decades) and vintage FS books, their prices are quite reasonable and often a bargain. Best of all, they are apparently picky with regard to book condition and the vast majority of books with photographs I viewed on their abebooks listing were in NF or fine condition.

Island Books is a classic case of caveat emptor, but I certainly would not write them off entirely. I recently purchased 'The Bible Designed to be Read as Literature, 2 vol.' (1970) in the Folio society Special Binding (dark green full morocco leather binding with gilt geometric design, with marbled endpapers, in a black cloth-covered slipcase - NF condition) for $115 / 92 GBP and it is a steal at this price.

Feb 18, 2017, 11:37am Top

>3 dlphcoracl: I saw that set several weeks ago as advertised by that same seller: it was incorrectly described as 'faux leather' and with no mention of 'limited edition' or 'special binding' (though you could tell from the photo of the volumes and the slipcase that it was the Folio special binding LE) so I'm sure that's the reason it was fairly priced!

Edited: Feb 18, 2017, 12:32pm Top

>4 cronshaw:

That is indeed correct.

Feb 18, 2017, 11:59am Top

If anyone's thinking of taking up the current eBay offer of the "hard to come by" Temple of Flora plates portfolio for £500, please PM me and you can have my immaculate example for a full £100 less. I'll console myself for its loss by using the money to buy the book from Ardis. One lucky member only, act quickly to avoid disappointment...

Feb 18, 2017, 2:16pm Top

An optimistically priced copy of Poems by Wilfred Owen:


Feb 19, 2017, 1:48am Top

There is a copy of the third printing (1992) of P.G. Wodehouse's Leave it to Psmith offered by an American bookseller on ABE for $2,994.99. According to the description it has a scuffed slipcase. I wonder how much they would be asking if the slipcase was in fine condition?

Edited: Feb 19, 2017, 4:23am Top

>8 Ipcress_File:
Found it.
I have a sneaky suspicion this is a mis-type rather than a serious offer.

Feb 19, 2017, 4:54am Top

>8 Ipcress_File: If they offered a 10% discount I might be interested.

Feb 19, 2017, 6:19am Top

>8 Ipcress_File: I love the way the seller asks for $2,994.99 as if $2,995.00 would be off-putting.

Feb 19, 2017, 3:38pm Top

>11 cronshaw:
Pehaps the decimal point was nothing more than an ink stain??? ;-)

Feb 20, 2017, 9:40am Top

eBay UK: Molesworth £140 (or best offer).

Feb 20, 2017, 10:44am Top

>13 scratchpad: Molesworth £140 (or best offer).

No dog ears or rips, either. Fantastic bargain.

Edited: Feb 20, 2017, 6:43pm Top

>7 bookfair_e: Even though the price of the fine press editions seems to have climbed recently, that is optimistic. The book seller is honest enough to point out that the slipcase is missing, apparently unaware that it never existed!

Mar 6, 2017, 5:42am Top

Ghost Stories of M.R. James

8vo blue decorated cloth in grey card slipcase. Illustrated with lithographs by Charles Keeping.

"This item is obtained direct from the respective publishers/suppliers. We do not sell second hand products."

A mere £3711.94 INCLUDING POSTAGE!


Mar 6, 2017, 9:36am Top

>16 folio_books: Even if it's two decimal places out I think it's too pricey.

Mar 6, 2017, 10:03am Top

>16 folio_books:

It says "experienced seller". Does that mean he knows full well there are plenty of idiots out there?

Mar 6, 2017, 10:19am Top

>16 folio_books:
Give the guy a break. If you go to his website he has some stuff at reasonable prices. On page one alone there's Cannabis Grow Bible: the Definitive Guide, and The Toilet Roll Book.

Mar 6, 2017, 10:33am Top

Ah, the Toilet Roll Activity Book. It's a little more specialised, but might TRAB be worth considering as a successor to YRTTD? Could be worth a poll as to the proportion of us who would be enthused by the prospect of acquiring six or eight copies to own or distribute.

Mar 6, 2017, 10:41am Top

>20 terebinth: Bundle it up with a Blue Peter Annual c. 1970 and "a pair of Val's old knickers" and I reckon you could be onto a winner there...

Mar 6, 2017, 1:09pm Top

>19 Jayked: On page one alone there's Cannabis Grow Bible: the Definitive Guide

I believe we are now closer to understanding his high prices.

Mar 14, 2017, 5:07pm Top

I will not list the seller, but Ghost stories of M.R.James have been discounted £3502,38, so the new price is about £200. Still expensive, still expensive ..

Mar 16, 2017, 3:07pm Top

I'm watching in morbid fascination a copy of Folio's The Dark is Rising rising darkly on a thermal column of 21 bids on eBay.co.uk with over a day still to go. It's currently soaring at £127 (plus P&P). Madness.

Mar 16, 2017, 4:17pm Top

i really need to complete the patrick obrian series, but not at the prices currently on ebay: the hundred days is £249!!

hopefully over time the prices will drop to a more realistic amount!

Mar 16, 2017, 5:37pm Top

>25 stumc: hopefully over time the prices will drop to a more realistic amount!

Of course they will. Patience is the key.

Mar 16, 2017, 5:57pm Top

>25 stumc: Listen to Glenn. He waited 14 years for Morte`d Arthur ;) .. but he got it in the end. The longer you wait i have heard and read somewhere, the more special it will be.

Mar 16, 2017, 6:02pm Top

>27 Pellias: I would like my funeral to be extremely special.

Mar 17, 2017, 5:30am Top

>27 Pellias: He waited 14 years for Morte`d Arthur ;) .. but he got it in the end. The longer you wait i have heard and read somewhere, the more special it will be.

That much is certainly true. Malory and Johnson get very special loving glances when I'm in the vicinity. It also took me over twenty years to complete the Folio Press Fine Editions.

Mar 17, 2017, 6:02pm Top

>26 folio_books: i live in hope! to be honest like most devotees i have an extremely large TBR pile anyway!

Mar 19, 2017, 5:15pm Top

Little Women at £80 starting bid on eBay UK. What's so special about this book?

Mar 20, 2017, 5:04am Top

>31 scratchpad: Little Women at £80 starting bid on eBay UK. What's so special about this book?

Nothing, as far as I can see. It's still available at Folio for £39.95, so it looks like just another ignorant chancer. No bids, surprisingly ...

Edited: Mar 21, 2017, 6:45am Top

Correction. Just had a proper look and it's not the current edition. It was printed in 2007 and it's a reprint of the first Folio edition of 1964. In common with all the children's books they published in the sixties it's remarkably unremarkable and with no scarcity value, even if it was the 1964 edition. As a reprint. even less so. Comment about ignorant chancer still stands.

Edited to correct correction.

Mar 23, 2017, 1:39pm Top

Compleet Molesworth Not sealed, eBay UK, £190!! Snap it up now!

Mar 28, 2017, 6:14am Top

Not a ridiculous price, perhaps, if you believe the 'shabby chic' look is worth paying through the nostrils for.

Mar 28, 2017, 10:34am Top

>34 scratchpad:

I wouldn't pay that much for a book full of typos.

Mar 28, 2017, 6:36am Top

>35 cronshaw: if you believe the 'shabby chic' look is worth paying through the nostrils for

Yes, I saw this and had to wonder at the effrontery. I have seen the occasional one of these first editions of the Entertainments showing signs of fading but this one takes the prize for galloping spine rot.

Mar 28, 2017, 7:35am Top

>36 boldface: verry drol

Mar 28, 2017, 2:31pm Top

>37 folio_books: i had to do a double take when i saw that set of greene! i somehow think most devotees couldnt cope with books in that state! especially at the bargain price of £80

Mar 30, 2017, 9:02pm Top

Well, the Dante set I was planning to bid on just went for $615.55 USD on ebay!!! I didn't even place my bid as in the last seconds it got into $500s. Purgatorio and Paradiso were still shrink-wrapped, Inferno wasn't. Considering you can pick up Purgatorio for about $150, and Inferno for less than $100, is Paradiso that rare that someone just dropped $400 on it? I don't see it on abe (apart from really ridiculously priced sets), and see nothing in ebay history. What's its current going price in the US? Or even worldwide?

Apr 5, 2017, 12:45am Top

I bid on it too and wasn't the winner. I've seen several for sale at high prices but the only sold prices I've seen till now are $500 for the full set (I've seen that twice). So while sellers seem to think it's worth $500 alone, buyers don't appear to agree.

Edited: Jul 17, 2017, 5:21am Top

Douglas Adams set
Any takers?
Available direct from FS for about half this price.

Jul 17, 2017, 8:59am Top

>41 QueSaraSara:

$500 eh? Just pick up the Taschen Blake and get one of the dozen or so other affordable editions of Dante.

Jul 17, 2017, 12:45pm Top

> 42wcarter


There are several sellers who are trying to catch the (uninformed) science fiction / fantasy audience. A lot of sellers are offering 'American Gods' at about twice its price new from FS, among them the same seller who has the Adams set.




Jul 17, 2017, 1:23pm Top

>44 SF-72:

FS nowhere near as bad as Easton Press. Every Easton Press DLE I see on Ebay is marked up 50000%.

Aug 17, 2017, 7:17am Top

>46 bookfair_e: I saw this without noticing the price. This astonishing thing must be a misplaced decimal point but no, the monthly terms says otherwise and amount to a couple of hundred pounds more. I reckon this will be snapped up in no time to avoid the interest payments.

Aug 17, 2017, 8:12am Top

>46 bookfair_e: Haha!! Insane!

Aug 17, 2017, 9:36am Top

>47 scratchpad:
Monthly payments must be an automatic ebay thing. What was the price? It's £24.85 now.

Aug 17, 2017, 9:57am Top

>49 elladan0891: £1,985 or thereabouts!

Aug 17, 2017, 11:31am Top

>49 elladan0891: £1,985 or From £94 per month for 24 months.

Edited: Nov 2, 2017, 11:05pm Top

Wizard of Earthsea is on Ebay for £150.

Edited: Nov 14, 2017, 7:27pm Top

>24 cronshaw:
A copy of "The Dark is Rising" went for only £15 Buy-It-Now on Ebay in September. Obviously the seller
hadn't checked prices. One lucky buyer! I wonder how many seconds it was on sale for :) . Another copy
has recently been sold for over £200.

Jun 1, 2018, 6:32am Top

I Am Legend LE for £800 on Ebay UK!,

Jun 1, 2018, 12:34pm Top

SaleofLux is selling it on Ebay for £900 - and no returns!

Jun 1, 2018, 5:07pm Top

Oblivion Books of Seattle currently has a copy of the 2006 edition of Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier on ABE for a mere US$ 73,968.98!

Jun 5, 2018, 11:39pm Top

Just found this on Amazon.au. The 1991 seven volume set of Jane Austen on sale for AU$739! But the seller, DMI Media is offering free shipping 😕

Aug 23, 2018, 4:55am Top

I was astonished to see the 2vol 2014 War And Peace on sale for £375. This from aldersley - a reliable and top-of-the-range seller but surely not at this price. If it sells I’ll be doubly astonished. I got mine for £60 (shrink-wrapped) in 2016, admittedly an astonishinly low price then.

Aug 23, 2018, 10:01am Top

>59 scratchpad: I was surprised by the price too, but I think it will sell. Considering the beautiful binding, illustrations, and slipcase I think it's the best edition Folio Society, or any publisher, has ever produced. Now that it has been out of print for a while, it's becoming more rare than the LE. I recall only one copy selling recently on eBay and it was damaged. I always thought this edition should be more desirable and valuable than the LE, and it looks like aldersley thinks the same. They are at least testing that theory. Currently there is only one other copy available on AbeBooks from a U.S. seller for $500 (about £388). I think the days of buying this edition under $200 are long gone. It wouldn't be wise for any seller to ask for less, with the exception of a damaged copy.

Aug 23, 2018, 11:09am Top

I bought some (seriously) overprized books when i was a noob (and a completist) in the game (completists are the worst kind to spend lots on what for others seem like "nothing"), therefore if people would not buy at these ridiculous prices we wouldn`t have them either

* Partly i am forgiven because of the cost of shipping, but i am not at all forgiven for the way i gung-hoed my way into the book buying buisiness, i was an emotional buyer, as in i felt it was worth it therefore i bought it, in all simplicity i kind of thought that if a book went OOP, it would be "gone forever" - and that is not a crazy thought, the buisness are marked that way, but to know that information one has to know the market which is not so simple for a noob starting his or hers first or upgraded collection

- -

If i should part with some editions someday, then i am not looking to earn that much from my sales (excluded are some editions that seem worth it looking at the market price like Moby Dick or Toilers of the sea), but i am looking to at least get what i bought them for, if they stand the test of time at least

Most of all i would like to give them away to someone that would value the collection

* Sorry for my long post, but i`m gardening, that gives me a h*** lot of energy today apparently

Aug 23, 2018, 1:56pm Top

>62 NLNils: `New in shrinkwrap, which is split on the back` = LOL .. attention to details is important. That bumps the price a LOT.

Aug 23, 2018, 2:29pm Top

This 5 vol Orwell collection sold on Ebay UK the other day for £15 plus £3 postage. Books as new, slip case with very slight shelfwear.

Aug 27, 2018, 11:52am Top

Not the book per se, but shipping for this item (UK to the Netherlands) is a whopping 1,550.00 GBP. That box better be coated with diamonds upon arrival.


Aug 28, 2018, 2:15am Top

>65 Fierylunar: It now is £15. I think the seller realized his typo.

Does anyone know why people who try to sell the Silmarillion state that it is rare and ask double the price you can buy it from FS directly?

Aug 28, 2018, 7:27am Top

>66 c_schelle:

Shipping is still GBP 1,550.00, the book itself is 15.

Aug 28, 2018, 8:57am Top

>67 SF-72: Ah, my bad. It seems I wasen't fully awake when reading the post this morning.

Aug 31, 2018, 3:45pm Top

Ardis wants 120 Pounds for Dune (a reprint, not the 1st edition or anything of the sort) when it's still available from FS at 75 Pounds. I didn't think they were into this kind of rip-off.

Aug 31, 2018, 4:33pm Top

>69 SF-72: It’s a recent development I believe. Upwards adjustment of prices overall and gouging on titles still in print or reprinted. He also has a Foundation Trilogy by Asimov above the FS price listed. For the devotee, a keener eye is required as a lot of good deals can still be had, apart from the stacking shipping costs.

Sep 1, 2018, 4:17am Top

>70 NLNils:

Good to know that this is a wider trend with them. I thought this was an exception.

Sep 1, 2018, 9:49am Top

I'm interested in what price members think is correct.
I put up a message a few days ago because I'm selling a few items but have no idea if the prices are high, low or correct.
I have been told that the forum should not be used to sell books and apologised for it but was surprised that I got no comments at all about whether the books were priced correctly.

I do understand that a book for sale on the internet with a price higher than one can buy the same thing from FS seems madness.

Sep 1, 2018, 11:47am Top

>72 davidswiss:

When I'm either looking for something to buy or plan to sell something, I take a look at prices on the amazons, ebay, maybe abebooks. It gives me a pretty good idea of what price range there is online (book stores with Folios aren't accessible where I live) unless the books are so rare there are none available. Googling might show bookstores with those in some cases. Some sellers clearly go over the top, others charge ridiculously low prices. I vividly remember a seller trying to sell a paperback for over 1000$ because the author was now popular, but there weren't many copies of her first book on the market. It didn't sell (and the book was reprinted), so this type of shark certainly isn't a good guideline.

I hope this helps. I saw your post, but since those books aren't on my 'want' list I never looked into what they usually sell for.

Sep 1, 2018, 12:00pm Top

Thanks SF.
I did google a few but the ones I have for sale I couldn't find for direct comparison so just checked general prices and made a stab in the dark.

Sep 1, 2018, 12:29pm Top

I was given this valuable advice some years ago:

It's worth as much as somebody's prepared to pay you.

In other words, there is no 'correct' price. It all comes down to how much they want it.

Funny old things, humans. Seller beware, I guess. :-)

Good luck :-)

Sep 1, 2018, 12:55pm Top

>74 davidswiss:

You can also search ebay for past transactions (advanced search, completed listing), maybe that would show you something, in particular since those actually sold. The amazons also have a lot of FS books, especially the British one.

Sep 1, 2018, 3:36pm Top

Thank you Cat, all advice is good, well maybe not all.

Sep 1, 2018, 3:36pm Top

Thank you again SF I didn't know that.

Sep 2, 2018, 5:47am Top

There is a FS Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep for $999 on eBay. The seller has it listed twice for that amount and they've had it up at that price for about 3 months now so it's not a mistake. But hey, thank God the shipping is free.

Sep 2, 2018, 8:24am Top

Sep 25, 2018, 8:37pm Top

>59 scratchpad: >60 NotDownInAnyMap:

War and Peace. 2014.
There is now another set on ebay and Abe, from a reliable seller, Ardis. Considerably cheaper at £132. Cheaper still with the Ardis 10% discount for previous buyers.

Usual disclaimer.

Apr 4, 7:58am Top

The Nursery Rhyme book for about twice the original price, but supposedly a 'hard-to-find' book according to the seller. Not really...


Edited: Apr 28, 2:08pm Top

There are four Folio Fairies soaring to rarefied heights on eBay this evening. They're currently twinkling toward £600 with three hours' flight time remaining. You could buy all eleven volumes of the exquisite Pepys Diary LE for less. The top bidder is exceedingly determined having secured the topmost three bids. May the maddest Faddict win.

Apr 28, 3:54pm Top

>84 cronshaw:

I see what you mean about the bidder - he's all but wetting himself, and for what? I'm aware the Olive is in high demand and the Lilac is quite tricky but the Crimson and the Yellow ... really? I suppose for those still chasing a Fairy or two it eliminates a couple or more competitors. The Pepys LE is an astounding bargain in comparative terms.

Edited: Apr 28, 5:14pm Top

>85 folio_books: olive, lilac and crimson each have been sold between $300 to $500 recently, and even yellow has rarely sold under $100 on eBay within the last three months. Assuming the buyer is missing all four, they would still buy below current market price.

On the long run, I agree that these prices are way too high. All of these four books have had at least two print runs, and yellow should actually be quite common (as far as I know, only Orange and Grey had only one print run). Each print run was likely larger than most other Folio books, the Lang Fairy books seemed quite popular when they were issued.

Supply of used Lang Folio books (brown and after) is just too constrained right now, as there just wasn’t enough time for the normal reason for books being resold (e.g. original owner downsizes) to kick in. Also, historically there haven’t been huge price increases on standard Folio Society books after they sold out, so there are likely less speculators in this market (thank god for that). Time will take care of the supply side, so I am almost certain that prices will come down in the next years once more books hit the market. It might take a bit longer for prices to fall than with Aubrey Maturin series, as I guess the buyer base for fairy books is quite high.

Apr 28, 6:02pm Top

>85 folio_books: The lot finally went for £635 with the winning bidder getting what he must consider a bargain since the winning bid was only his fifth highest. Serious Secure Ward behaviour.

Apr 28, 7:54pm Top

FS should consider another run of these books (Fairy series) if only for the sake of stamping out the extortionist pricing going on in the secondary market. Clearly there's a demand, at least for some of them.

Apr 29, 5:28am Top

>88 adriano77:

But how widespread is the demand? Whenever I check the list of bidders for Folios selling at extortionate prices I invariably find no more than a handful of people bidding against each other, more often just two or three. Folio need more than that to justify another print run.

Apr 29, 12:40pm Top

>89 folio_books:

Fair point. As I have no personal interest in the books, I think it's more so my desire to see those sellers cut down a notch. Nothing wrong with what they're doing, supply and demand and all that, but it still irks me. I empathize with those trying to finish sets especially.

Apr 29, 1:38pm Top

>90 adriano77: It's more so my desire to see those sellers cut down a notch.

You're far from alone in that wish. My chosen method is not to pay their prices.

Edited: May 1, 5:02pm Top

>87 cronshaw: Ardis just listed some of the Fairy Books. The four titles from this auction are listed at:

Olive: 350 GBP
Lilac: 575 GBP
Crimson: 340 GBP
Yellow: 140 GBP.

Combined the four would be more than GBP 1400, more than twice the incredibly high price for the lot on ebay. The Lilac individually is listed GBP 80 higher than the full 11 volumes of Pepys including wooden case on ebay.

It feels like we must be at the peak of a bubble market.

Admittedly, Ardis does set prices high for hyped books - so they might not actually sell.

May 1, 4:38pm Top

>92 teppi2: Ardis does set prices high for hyped books - so they might not actually sell.

He didn't used to be like that but he certainly is now. He was one of the first to hyper-inflate the Aubrey-Maturin series. I saw no evidence of him selling any of those and I'd be very surprised if he sold any of the Fairies at those kind of prices.

I still buy from him very occasionally but only when his prices are realistic. It's a shame. He's not doing his business any favours.

May 2, 8:18am Top

>93 folio_books:

Definitely. There are even used books that are still available new from FS for more than FS charges. It seems the new standard are prices on ebay and abebooks, but if you take your price orientation from rip-off artists who hope for uninformed buyers, that certainly doesn't speak for you.

May 2, 8:51am Top

>92 teppi2: >93 folio_books: >94 SF-72: It's years since I last used Ardis, and I can't see myself ever returning. Every time I've seen I book advertised by him I've found a copy in equivalent or better condition for substantially less elsewhere.

May 2, 11:51am Top

To back this up, I dug a little bit into the sales history of Lang books on ebay. I got data on all sold books in the last 90 days from both ebay.co.uk and ebay.com. I excluded any books without slipcases and not at least in near fine condition. Then I compared maximum and average price of the actual sales to the bookseller listings. This was a very quick draw, so I might have missed some data points.

This shows that the bookseller is selling most of the books 50% to 100% over the recent average price achieved on ebay, and nearly all books are priced above the highest actual sale in the last 90 days. Crimson, Green and Lilac seem to be the most ambitiously priced ones.

Of course it works to their advantage that they are currently the only one listing the rarer books (Olive and Lilac) on Abebooks. Also, there is the repeat buyer discount, and many of their books are sealed (which is the case for only one third of the ebay listings). Even with all of that considered, it is quite likely that they will not make a sale for most of those listings.

May 2, 2:21pm Top

>96 teppi2: "Also, there is the repeat buyer discount, and many of their books are sealed (which is the case for only one third of the ebay listings). "

The secondhand book business has traditionally had a strong bond between specialist dealers and their regular customers - customers were quite happy to pay a little over the odds in terms of price, on the basis that they would receive a better level of service. So dealers would be prepared to discuss their stock with customers, maintain wants lists, have no-quibble return policies and go out of their way to describe any faults in their merchandise clearly and fairly.

The Internet has had a significant impact on this business model, but it still survives to some degree. I find Ardis' prices to be surprisingly competitive, particularly when you consider that people who sell to them will be expecting to be paid high prices. With regard to the Fairy Books they have recently listed, the Lilac Book seems to be over the top, but the others are all comparable to recent prices obtained on Ebay.

May 2, 3:38pm Top

>97 TheEconomist: I'll say a word in defence of Ardis -- you can trust them. You're not going to get a huge bargain, but I've always been happy with the condition of the books sold there, and for stuff like the rarer LEs they're often the only reasonable port of call.

May 2, 4:48pm Top

>97 TheEconomist:

Regarding where Ardis choose to price its copies, I think I am somewhere in between the opinions that this is reasonably priced vs totally overpriced. I think the prices are definitely on the high end of what is achievable, even considering that Ardis is a very reliable bookseller with an established customer base on good service. Thus, I would expect some of them to sell (e.g. Browne and Olive), while most others stay in inventory for quite a while (e.g. Lilac and Crimson).

In my limited experience, a good auction listing on ebay with a lowish starting bid, good title, description and ending time will achieve roughly 40-60% of the average price of a similar item (same book in same condition) listed by reputable dealers such as Ardis. If I bid about 70% of that price, I have a very high chance of winning the auction. If I bid less than 40% of that price, there is a good chance I will loose the item. Intuitively, this price gap makes sense as I get a much higher level of convenience from the bookseller (e.g. I don't have to wait for a listing and bid with uncertain outcome, I can stroll through a physical store and get advice from a knowledgeable professional).

Based on this rule and the historical sales price data I listed in post 96, the Ardis prices in relation to actual ebay sales appear reasonable.

However, I noticed that when a book goes through a rapid increase in demand, the gap between ebay and bookseller price shrinks. The most notable case recently for Folio books was the Aubrey Maturin series, but there are other examples. At the peak of the "craze" for those books, Ardis (and a couple of other reputable booksellers) managed to get hold of the most desirable books of the series and priced them roughly with the same margin above already high ebay auction prices as now for the Fairy books. I did not see a lot of those selling, and folio_books notes a similar observation in his post 93. Ebay auctions still achieved very high prices at the same time, before prices slowly started to decline.

Obviously most of my observations are purely anecdotal, and I am certain that whoever makes pricing decisions at Ardis knows significantly more about this topic than I do. The books are probably hard to obtain at a low price for a bookseller right now. Also, Ardis might not want to turn over the books quickly - it could be useful to be the only who has a copy of a desirable book available.

In short, I feel that the overall market for the later Lang fairy tale books has overheated due to supply and demand. I also think that these new listings by Ardis might indeed be the first listings of the later Lang fairy tale books that will not be immediately snapped up - I definitely do not mean to blame Ardis for their pricing decisions. Lastly, this book series has defied expectations for quite a while now, so maybe they will all be sold by the end of the week.

May 3, 2:57pm Top

>99 teppi2: "In my limited experience, a good auction listing on ebay with a lowish starting bid, good title, description and ending time will achieve roughly 40-60% of the average price of a similar item (same book in same condition) listed by reputable dealers such as Ardis."

The irony is, of course, that if Ardis were to reduce their prices across the board by - say - 50%, as some on this board seem to be suggesting they should, all it would do would be to deflate Ebay selling prices by the same amount, because many/most Ebay buyers use the fixed prices (on ABE et al) as a guide when deciding how high to bid on Ebay.

Specialist dealers know full well that they cannot compete with everybody else on price - they have to pay the full trade price to get their stock, whereas they are competing with people who are selling off their own collection themselves, people who have struck lucky and found books cheaply, and those organisations that get their stock for free. The business model simply has to be built on something other than offering the cheapest price.

May 4, 4:17am Top

>100 TheEconomist:

To me it's not about a professional seller having the cheapest price (for the reasons that you mention, and because that's how they make a living), but about not going over the top. I don't see any justification for selling a used book for more than it costs new when it's still available as such, unless you're hoping that whoever buys it won't be in a position to realise that they're being ripped off. Or you haven't even bothered to check that those sellers on ebay and abebooks that inspire your own price tag are trying to rip people who don't know better off. That didn't used to be the case with Ardis, but has been more recently.

In other cases the prices are plain and simply exaggerated. I can understand that sellers are trying, but 500 Pounds for a book that originally cost 45 or less since FS often gave discounts on the Fairy Tale books? The most extreme example of this I encountered wasn't for an FS book, but a regular 6$ paperback of an author who only became well known some years after the small print run of her first novel sold out. A seller tried to sell that book for over 1000$. Fortunately, nobody was foolish enough to buy before it was finally reprinted some years later. That kind of greed is just ugly, in my opinion.

May 4, 5:14am Top

>101 SF-72: That didn't used to be the case with Ardis, but has been more recently.
>101 SF-72: 500 Pounds for a book that originally cost 45 or less since FS often gave discounts on the Fairy Tale books?

Entirely agree. The only word that fits is greed. It is the sellers who force prices up and seek to maintain them at extortionate levels. Fortunately I see little evidence of them selling at those prices but if you see them often enough you start to beleve this is the norm, and this is what bleeds through to eBay. I notice prices for the O'Brians are showing signs of being well past their peak (still the occasional optimist looking for hundreds, but they are getting fewer) and doubtless the Fairies will follow - it\s just a question of time. What will be the next bubble, I wonder?

Edited: May 4, 6:38am Top

>100 TheEconomist: I'm not sure what you mean when you suggest that re-sellers of Folio Society books 'have to pay the full trade price' for their stock. From what I've heard from numerous sources in the book trade, professional re-sellers typically acquire their stock in bulk from deceased estates which they acquire very cheaply. A friend (met at the old members' room in Eagle St no less) informed me that he had acted as executor for such an estate and had sold to an established Folio re-seller who had paid £2 to £3 per fine FS volume (and these were not the older, less sought-after editions). This friend said he was mortified that the estate got so little for books which he knew were worth far more, but he was limited by time constraints and had no choice but to accept what was offered. I have no reason to believe that what that friend told me was not accurate.

Several years ago, Ardis actually stated on their website what 'we would be willing to pay for such-and-such a title in fine condition' and it was indeed a small fraction of the price subsequently charged. This information is no longer advertised on the website. Of course, all re-sellers have their overhead costs (even if they don't run a physical shop) and are moreover entitled to charge whatever they want. It is the responsibility of book buyers to check the reasonableness, if they care, of any asking price. When supply of any much desired item is intermittently restricted, prices are apt to become volatile and highly inflated. This is frustrating for Devotees with limited purses, or for those who simply begrudge paying several times the original price for a book that's not even a limited edition, but it is basic economics at work when sellers understandably want to achieve the highest possible price for their stock. This does not remotely reflect 'trade' prices paid, it reflects rather the maximum that a seller hopes an individual seller may be willing to pay at any given moment. However, if sellers want to achieve a reputation for fair pricing and foster customer loyalty, they should perhaps consider moderating the more excessive reaches of their pricing optimism. What is absolutely inexcusable to my mind is when re-sellers charge more than the RRP for a volume still available direct from Folio. There remain many such examples on eBay and abebooks. Volumes even from this month's new collection are already available on abebooks at well in excess of the price direct from FS.

May 4, 6:37am Top

>101 SF-72: I accept your first point in full. This is bad practice and, if the owner of Ardis is reading this, I suggest that this will ultimately be detrimental to your (his) business.

Your second point, however, I disagree with completely. You appear to be suggesting that Ardis should operate in a bubble in which the high prices on Ebay are not happening, and I just find this bizarre. When a commodity is in short supply and high demand, the price goes up - that is pretty much page one of "An Introduction to Economics". Ardis et al are not making the inflated Ebay prices happen; that is simply a result of too many people chasing too few books.

Put yourself in the place of someone selling their collection of Fairy Books. If they approached a dealer who said "I know that these books are fetching high prices on Ebay, but I think they shouldn't be, so I won't charge my customers any more than they cost when new. So I'll give you £20 each for them". What do think the response would be?

I would expect a professional specialist dealer to make an offer commensurate with the prices that are actually being fetched on the secondhand market, and if they do that it follows that their resale prices must also be commensurate with those prices.

May 4, 7:14am Top

>104 TheEconomist:

20 Pounds would be just as exaggerated as 500 Pounds. I'm not saying sellers shouldn't make money on a book, just that they shouldn't go completely over the top with prices.

There are websites where you can see what the sellers offer for books etc. and it can be quite shocking how big the difference is. They pay 3 Euro, then sell it for 100 Euros and those kinds of things. I suspect it might be telling that Ardis doesn't show how much they offer to sellers anymore. I vaguely remember it being around 50% of their selling price. (I could be wrong, it's been a while since I looked at this.) But considering the way those prices went, I seriously doubt that Ardis would pay 200 Pounds and more for a Fairy Book.

>103 cronshaw:

"However, if sellers want to achieve a reputation for fair pricing and foster customer loyalty, they should perhaps consider moderating the more excessive reaches of their pricing optimism."

Exactly this. To me that's one of the differences between trustworthy and decent sellers I automatically go to when I'm searching for something, or the sellers I know inflate prices. I don't want to support that.

To give another practical example: In the case of Ardis, I was actively searching for a book (a limited edition) and was offered a damaged one at a pretty high price. I didn't buy it because of the condition. The book was listed on several websites for quite a bit less shortly afterwards, the price was then lowered several more times, and in the end I read that someone here bought it at a generous discount. That whole process leaves a bad taste in my mouth because it doesn't feel like fair pricing. If someone can list something for less on a website where they have to pay a percentage when selling, they shouldn't be charging more when making a direct sale. That's certainly not something that creates trust or customer loyalty. I used to consider Ardis a fair and reliable seller whose prices were slightly higher than those of others, but I was willing to pay that for their honesty and reliability. That certainly isn't the situation anymore, at least not in my experience and looking at their prices in general. I should add that I also received books that weren't in the described condition. I don't know what led to these changes, but they certainly made my buying from them a lot less likely.

Edited: May 4, 11:33am Top

The moral of the pricing story for the FS Andrew Lang Fairy Books? Same old, same old: caveat emptor. The comments regarding ridiculous prices are true and this applies to the ultra-high end private press books as much as the FS Andrew Lang books. Prices have skyrocketed beyond all reason over the past several years and formerly responsible and conscientious booksellers are listing books at absurd prices and making obscene profits.


Because buyers are enabling them by not doing their homework, determining what a fair price is, and patiently waiting for a copy to appear at a reasonable price. Instead, they are buying these overpriced titles - no questions asked - encouraging more of the same from these booksellers. And guess what? It really is all right if you decide that a bookseller is offering a book at an unreasonable and unfair price, making a profit that is several hundred percent above what they paid for it - AND PASSING ON MAKING THE PURCHASE !!!! A bit of discipline and common sense is clearly in order and prices will come down when informed buyers refuse to buy these books at vastly inflated prices.

Remember: It only becomes an obscenely overpriced book when you fail to do your homework or fail to exercise discipline and common sense and make the purchase anyway.

Edited: May 4, 8:08am Top

>103 cronshaw: What evidence do you have, though, that £2 to £3 per volume wasn't a fair price, other than the fact that the executor believed it to be unfair? I regularly follow the prices of quantity lots of Folio Society publications at public auction, and £2-3 per volume is not an uncommon outcome, unless the books are quite recent. And the vendor would have to pay the auctioneer a high proportion (about one-third) of what the buyer actually pays.

I can remember when Ardis used to have statement on their website that they would pay on average £4-5 for more recent volumes, and £2-3 for older ones, and that always seemed to me to be a hostage to fortune, as for many individual volumes that would be far too high for them to turn a reasonable profit.

The reality is that specialist dealers do have to offer a fair trade price, because otherwise they won't get the word-of-mouth recommendations that they need in order to obtain their specialist stock.

Edited: May 4, 8:25am Top

>107 TheEconomist:


Specialist dealers do NOT have to offer a fair trade price - they can offer these books at absurd prices in the hope and knowledge that uneducated and/or undisciplined buyers will leap at the chance to buy these books. And, sadly, novice and newbie book collectors do just that.

Edited: May 4, 8:54am Top

>107 TheEconomist: The assumption seems to be that on larger collections of books, a fair price should be offered for every single title (e.g. a rarer Fairy book should fetch more than a copy of the readily available Year Round Things to Do). The purpose of an estate sale/large quantity public auction is to get rid of the books quickly and without hassle, thereby lowering the price way below actual market value for some of those books, whereas less wanted books are actually more expensive than resale. Basically, the buyer purchases those books by the metre and hopes to turn a profit on the more wanted books while trying to ditch the others as quickly as possible to avoid having to store them/keep relisting them.

If estate owners want to get a fair price on the rarer or newer books, they should be prepared for the tasks of finding out what books are worth more than the average 2-3 gbp/book, listing those online and selling them one by one - eventually. Most of the time, the heirs of such a private collection just want it over and done with, so they won't bother. Basically, the buyer of the estate will show the patience reselling that the estate owners won't. Their customers also do not want to buy large estates just to get the 3-4 titles they want from it, so they pay for the convenience.

After buying the estate, it depends on the reseller what type of customer he wants. Do you want the loyal customer base? Treat your customers fairly, i.e.: do not overcharge for titles still available through FS; do not increase the price on more wanted books over a reasonable amount (cf. 96, >200% of the average secondhand resale price seems overtly optimistic); do not chase away customers by asking overtly ridiculous prices and then selling elsewhere (>105 SF-72:). Do you want the highest price for every individual book? Prepare for one time customers and a reputation as a greedy bookseller among more fervent collectors.

May 4, 10:49am Top

>105 SF-72: I used to consider Ardis a fair and reliable seller whose prices were slightly higher than those of others, but I was willing to pay that for their honesty and reliability. That certainly isn't the situation anymore,

Me too. And I count it a huge loss, honest and reliable booksellers seeming to be fewer and farther between. My once-regular visits to the Ardis site have mutated into the once in a blue moon cycle, and only if I'm looking for a specific title. Whereas in the past I'd automatically assume his price to be fair (if a little high) and the quality unquestionable, this is no longer the case. Very sad, but ultimately his loss.

Edited: May 4, 12:06pm Top

>110 folio_books:

"Very sad, but ultimately his loss."

Wrong. He couldn't care less. He is filling the void by charging absurd prices to unsuspecting and unknowledgeable buyers and making money hand over fist. For every serious collector who wishes to establish a relationship with a reliable and honorable bookseller there are ten unsuspecting individuals who will buy his overpriced merchandise, no questions asked.

Do not waste time lamenting over the subsequent loss of business Ardis Books will sustain from you and other LT FSD collectors. Instead, spend the time seeking out and supporting the fine & rare booksellers that still sell their books at fair prices with honest, accurate descriptions of their inventory.

Edited: May 5, 2:06am Top

I'm quite sorry to read these negative comments about Ardis. I've recently ordered a few early Folios from Ardis, and have not noticed the changed conditions mentioned above by posters.

Edited: May 4, 2:03pm Top

Not to get too conspiratorial here, but y'all ever consider that some of these crazy prices might just be the same seller under a different name trying to make the low prices seem even lower? I.E. a sales tactic which would take little effort to pull off.

Or conversely to get other sellers to follow their lead and thus inflate the price?

May 4, 4:31pm Top

Caveat emptor.

May 4, 4:36pm Top

>88 adriano77:
>89 folio_books:

Many publishers of books and CDs offer a 'print on demand' service nowadays.

My experience is that the quality is often not up to the originals.

But, if they were to produce individual volumes of that quality:

How much would it cost Folio to produce a single copy on demand for, say, the O'Brien volumes?

Would it be more than the 'extortionate' secondary-market prices or would it be (relatively-speaking), cheap-as-chips?

At some point, surely, Folio (rather than the secondary sellers) would be in the money?

IANA Economist, obviously, but I'm sure somebody who knows about book production could crunch a few numbers for us.

May 4, 4:38pm Top

>91 folio_books:

'My chosen method is not to pay their prices.'

A man after my own heart, lol :-)

May 4, 5:24pm Top

>115 Cat_of_Ulthar: It is in the interests of the Folio Society for some of their books to spiral out of control on the secondhand market, because it may encourage customers to buy more books brand new, rather than see them go out of print and become unobtainable. If the FS were to do as you suggest, buyers could relax - and not buy today - in the knowledge that copies would always be obtainable at a reasonable price in the future.

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