There’s a chance that your old Harry Potter books could be worth hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars each. The very first printing of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone is predictably the most valuable, but collectors may be surprised to learn that even U.S. printings of later books in the Harry Potter series can fetch high prices depending on a number of factors.
The U.K. arm of rare and out-of-print bookseller AbeBooks has published a valuation guide for the Harry Potter series that you can use to find out if any of your old books are worth anything.
According to the guide, AbeBooks once sold a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for £26,700, which is over $37,000 USD at the current exchange rate, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
There are two main takeaways from the AbeBooks guide. The first is that first editions of the Harry Potter books, even first U.S. printings of later books in the series, are typically worth money. The other general rule is that author J.K. Rowling signed fewer and fewer copies of her books as the series progressed, making signed copies of later books in the series usually worth more money.
Another useful tip is to check your old Harry Potter books to see who is credited on the cover. If you have an early printing that credits “Joanne Rowling” instead of “J.K. Rowling” on the cover, you could be sitting on a goldmine. According to the pricing guide, hardcover first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that credit “Joanne Rowling” can sell for up to $55,000.
Although a $55,000 copy of the first Harry Potter book is the “holy grail for Potter collectors,” according to AbeBooks, even first edition paperbacks of the first Potter book can fetch up to five figures if the condition is good enough.
The U.S. version of the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is less valuable, but a copy that’s in excellent condition can still go for more than $6,500.
Books from later on in the Harry Potter series tend to be worth less to collectors, but it still may be worth your time to see if you have a rare, valuable edition. For instance, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was originally printed with the name “Joanne Rowling” on the copyright page before the mistake was discovered. Copies of the book with this mistake are worth nearly $1,500, and a signed version can sell for nearly $12,000.
J.K Rowling’s signature is key to finding value from the later books, as AbeBooks reports that the author signed fewer and fewer copies throughout the years. For instance, an unsigned copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has very little value, but Rowling signed only 1,700 copies of the book at a single event. Due to the rarity of these signed copies, they can sell for up to $5,500.
Other signatures, such as the signature of the cover artist, can also enhance the value of a Harry Potter book, but the effect isn’t as great. For instance, a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince signed by Rowling can sell for up to $5,000, while copies signed by illustrator Mary GrandPré are often available for less than $250.
Although $250 may be worlds apart from a windfall like a Harry Potter book worth $55,000, it’s still a significant value for a book that came out so recently.
According to AbeBooks, it usually takes several decades for a book to gain any significant value in the collector’s market, so the fact that so many volumes in the Harry Potter series, published between 1996 and 2007, are worth so much is remarkable. Do you think that the Harry Potter books will hold their values on the rare book market in the future, and would you sell a rare edition if you had one?
[Photo by AP Photo/Matt Dunham]