Rare and Collectible Books

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Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss AbeBooks has compiled a list of the most collectible books published between 2000 and 2009. Classify these books as hyper modern first editions. It usually takes a long time, sometimes decades, for a book’s value to be determined but these treasures became collectible in a hurry.

Some became desirable on a wave of popularity (Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code), others were propelled toward greatness after winning awards (Life of Pi, The Gathering), some were acclaimed by literary critics (Human StainGilead), others were initially self-published (Eragon, Highfield Mole) and several emerged from the rough and tumble of politics (My Life, Audacity of Hope). Step back and enjoy the most collectible books of the decade.

Please note: Prices are approximate to within a small margin, as currencies fluctuate. Quantity on rare books extremely limited; copies on display may sell quickly.

Most Collectible Books of the Decade (Published 2000-2009)

Collectible editions of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
1. The Tales of Beedle the Bard
J.K. Rowling

The original edition – there are only seven handmade copies. Our sister company, Amazon, purchased the only one available for £1,950,000 in a charity auction in 2007. Bound in brown Moroccan leather, the books are embellished with silver ornaments and mounted moonstones. AbeBooks sold a signed collector’s edition (limited to 100 copies) for $6,000.

Collectible editions of Peter Beard: Art Edition
2. Peter Beard: Art Edition
Peter Beard

Published by Taschen in 2006, the Art Edition of this famous photographer’s work was limited to 2250 signed and numbered copies. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $10,808. One of the most lavish books ever printed.

1st edition copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, signed by J.K. Rowling
3. Any post-2000 Harry Potter signed by J.K. Rowling

In 2000, J.K. Rowling changed from an up-and-coming author into a worldwide literary superstar. As her fame grew, her book tours became shorter. Today, any book signed by Rowling has instant value. A signed first edition of Order of the Phoenix sold for $7,657 on AbeBooks in 2007.

Limited edition of Odd Hours, signed and lettered by Dean Koontz
4. Any of Dean Koontz’s Odd Series if signed & lettered

Koontz published Odd Thomas in 2003 and has added three more to this series. Charnel House has produced a limited edition of each novel (signed and lettered) and these are highly desirable. AbeBooks sold a copy of Forever Odd, signed and lettered, for $4,550.

First edition of the Da Vinci Code, signed by Dan Brown
5. The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown

This novel was in its 104th printing when AbeBooks sold a signed first edition for $4,260 in May 2006 as the movie version was being released – it was the highest price ever paid for a copy of this bestselling thriller. Signed copies are treasured as Brown’s touring days are over.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
6. No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy

Published in 2005, this is a novel about a drug deal in the desert and it was quickly turned into an excellent movie. Signed first editions sell for around $800 to $1,000. A numbered deluxe edition, limited to 75 copies, sold for $4,500 on AbeBooks.

Antartctica by Pat & Rosemarie Keough
7. Antarctica
Pat & Rosemarie Keough

An incredible photography book published in 2007, this huge book weighs 27 pounds and was limited to 950 leather-bound copies. It was part of an effort to raise money to prevent the extinction of the albatross. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $4,000.

The limited, Bentley edition of Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, writing as Ian Fleming
8. Devil May Care (Bentley Edition)
Sebastian Faulks

Writing as Ian Fleming, Faulks breathed new life into the James Bond franchise in 2008. Doubleday produced these leather-bound beauties complete with a scale model of a Bentley on the cover. Only 300 copies were printed worldwide. AbeBooks has sold a boxed limited edition (not the Bentley) copy, one of only 500, for $870.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
9. Life of Pi
Yann Martel

Published in 2001, the Canadian Alfred A Knopf editions are ones that matter. This novel won the 2002 Man Booker Prize and achieved a remarkable combination of global popularity and critical acclaim. Most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $3,720.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
10. The Kite Runner
Khaled Hosseini

Who needs reviews and critical acclaim when word of mouth can deliver bestseller status? Published in 2003 with a small initial print run, first editions are treasured by fans of Hosseini’s writing. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks was snapped up for $2,750.

Eragon, first book of the Inheritance saga by Christopher Paolini
11. Eragon
Christopher Paolini

Self-published in 2002, Paolini wrote this fantasy novel as a teenager and toured around the US, with the aid of his parents, to promote it. Carl Hiaasen found a copy and his publisher Alfred A. Knopf was quick to sign the teenager. Most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $2,550.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
12. The Audacity of Hope
Barack Obama

Published in 2006, The Audacity of Hope does not compare to 1996’s Dreams From My Father in terms of collectability but it remains popular with fans of the president. Three copies were sold for $2,500 during the first six months of Obama’s presidency – all signed first editions.

The Highfield Mole by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams
13. The Highfield Mole
Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams

Self-published in 2005 by two British authors who quit their jobs to become full-time authors, this book was hailed as the next Harry Potter and quickly snapped up by a mainstream publisher. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $2,131.

My Life - autobiography of former U.S. president Bill Clinton
14.My Life
Bill Clinton

Signed copies of the former president’s autobiography were in great demand during the summer of 2004, a signed first edition sold for $1,850 on AbeBooks. Of course, these prices would be nothing compared to the demand for signed Obama books.

Theaters by Hiroshi Sugimoto
15. Theaters
Hiroshi Sugimoto

A surreal photographic masterpiece from 2000, Sugimoto photographed the interiors of cinemas by taking images from the projection room and setting exposures to the duration of the films.  The projector provides the sole lighting.  Several copies have sold for $1,800 on Abe.

The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Children of Hurin
J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien may have died in 1973 but his estate keeps churning out books for the diehard fans. Collectors want books signed by Christopher Tolkien, who edited Children of Hurin, and Alan Lee, who illustrated the book. Top Abe selling price - $1,750 for a deluxe edition signed by Lee.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
17. Shantaram
Gregory David Roberts

Published in 2003, this debut novel is infamous because the author is a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who spent 10 years on the run after escaping from prison. A signed Australian (Scribe Publications) first edition has sold for $1,750 on AbeBooks.

Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor
18. Shadowmancer
G.P. Taylor

Self-published in 2002, this fantasy novel is a Christian allegory similar to the Chronicles of Narnia. Graham Taylor (G.P.) went on to write three more novels in the series. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $1,731.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
19. Twilight
Stephenie Meyer

Meyer, a Mormon mom from Utah, hasn’t signed many books since becoming a literary superstar. A full set of her Twilight series, all signed firsts, has sold for $4,000 on AbeBooks. Signed first editions of Twilight from 2005 now have four-figure price-tags. A signed first edition of New Moon has sold for $1,650 on Abe.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
20. Gilead
Marilynne Robinson

Published in 2004, the most desirable edition is the Canadian one – the true first. A signed Canadian edition sold for $1,640 on AbeBooks. Robinson’s second novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and remains one of the best novels of the decade.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
21. Inkheart
Cornelia Funke

Yet another book saddled with the next Harry Potter tag, Inkheart first editions are in demand from collectors of fantasy fiction. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $1,500 – it was one of 250 signed and numbered limited editions.

Black House by Stephen King & Peter Straub
22. Black House
Stephen King & Peter Straub

The vast majority of King’s most collectible books were published way before 2000, but special limited editions of his books appeal to his fans. AbeBooks sold a limited edition leather-bound copy for $1,500 - it was signed by King, Straub and illustrator Rick Berry.

From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
23. From a Buick 8
Stephen King

This novel was published in 2002. King collectors are interested in the signed, limited to 750, copies published by CD publications – AbeBooks sold one of these, signed by King and illustrator Bernie Wrightson, for $1,495.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
24. The Road
Cormac McCarthy

Probably one of the most depressing books of the past decade, perhaps one of the best too. Two signed first editions of McCarthy’s Oprah Book Club-hyped novel, published in 2006, have sold for $1,100 each on AbeBooks.

Snow by Orhan Pamuk
25. Snow
Orhan Pamuk

Published in Turkish in 2002 and then in English in 2004, this novel about the tensions in modern Turkey helped Pamuk win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. A signed UK proof of this book has sold for $1,000 on AbeBooks.

The Human Stain By Philip Roth
26. The Human Stain
Philip Roth

Published in 2000, this novel set in rural New England is considered to be one of Roth’s best works of the noughties.  The most expensive copy, a signed first edition, sold on AbeBooks went for $995.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
27. Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel

Signed copies of Wolf Hall were in demand before Hilary Mantel won the 2009 Man Booker Prize.  This historical novel was AbeBooks’ bestselling signed book in October 2009 and signed first editions have been selling steadily since. Abe’s most expensive sale was a signed first that went for $875.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
28. The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

Published in 2002, this novel about a girl who is brutally raped and murdered and then goes to heaven remains one of the most acclaimed books of the decade. AbeBooks has sold a signed first edition for $575.

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
29. Tree of Smoke
Denis Johnson

Published in 2007, this Vietnam-inspired novel won the National Book Award for fiction. Signed first editions remain desirable. Top selling price on AbeBooks was $550.

The Sea by John Banville
30. The Sea
John Banville

There were only around 56 signed first edition copies of his acclaimed novel so selling prices have reached $550 for these hard-to-find autographed copies. The Sea won the Man Booker Prize in 2005.

The Gathering by Anne Enright
31. The Gathering
Anne Enright

Enright won the 2007 Man Booker Prize with this Irish misery novel by beating out a number of highly fancied authors like Ian McEwan, Nicola Barker and Lloyd Jones. The most expensive copy sold on AbeBooks went for $500.

March by Geraldine Brooks
32. March
Geraldine Brooks

Brooks, an Australian journalist and writer, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with this 2005 novel which retells Little Women from the perspective of the absent father. The most expensive signed first edition sold on AbeBooks went for $500

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
33. The Inheritance of Loss
Kiran Desai

This Indian-themed novel won the Man Booker Prize in 2006. Prices for signed first editions reached $440 but a softcover copy signed by Kiran Desai and her novelist mother Anita Desai sold for $750 on AbeBooks.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
34. Middlesex
Jeffrey Eugenides

Published in 2002, this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003 and was an Oprah Book Club selection. The story concerns Calliope, a woman, who becomes Cal, a man. Copies have sold for as much as $350 on AbeBooks.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
35. The Corrections
Jonathan Franzen

Published in 2001, this was Franzen’s third novel. Oprah’s Book Club loved it (although Franzen refused to go the show) and so did the high-end literary critics. It won the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction. A signed first edition has sold for $330 on AbeBooks.

In case you missed them the first time around: