I was inspired by Fiona and Su’s stories of how they came across a longed for book to complete their Enid Blyton collections, and ended up wondering how you achieve a complete collection of books that don’t cost the earth?
You can make the cost manageable, but what do you sacrifice in the name of a complete collection? There are things such as; the dust jacket, any editions/versions you already have in your collection, condition, age and edition.
Which editions do you have?
If you’re anything like me (which I hope you aren’t!) I have at least three different editions of the Famous Five books. I have the Hodder editions, the Hodder colour illustrated editions (Millennium editions), The 90s TV series tie-in editions, and some older 20th century editions by Hodder and Stoughton.
More often than not I shall pick up a Hodder copy as a reading copy rather than my older Hodder and Stoughtons, wishing to preserve their life. I do not have a complete collection of the Hodder and Stoughton copies because of my problem of space. I have the titles though, thanks to the two Hodder collections, and a near perfect set of the TV tie ins.
Back to our question: Which other editions have you got? When considering my collections, I have admittedly given up collecting the Hodder paperback editions because I do not have space. The two collections I focus on now are the earlier editions from the 1940s, 50s and 60s and the TV tie-ins.
Easy enough to decide on and know what I’m looking for. Shall we examine the next factor in our list?
The Price: I’ll focus on the Hodder and Stoughton editions for this part, (the TV tie-ins don’t leave much room for discussion!)
The Hodder and Stoughton editions of the Famous Five can be found with relative ease on eBay, where ones without a dust jacket and in a decent condition can go for as little as a fiver, but when you find that incredibly rare volume, with the near perfect dust jacket, and it’s a first edition etc, you think you’ve hit the jackpot, until you look at the price. That one little aspect of the book that you’ve waited on for so long can be devastating.
For example, leaving my search for the Famous Five for the moment, and looking at my almost complete collection of Malory Towers I am just missing First Term at Malory Towers with all pages and Upper Fourth at Malory Towers.
The two volumes that I don’t posses seem to be the hardest to get hold of in that series. It is very hard to find 1940s and 1950s editions of the Malory Towers books. The two copies I have found recently from this time start at £25 and one edition of Upper Fourth at Malory Towers was priced at £90!
I am tempted by the cheaper options for the first and fourth books, but I’m still not convinced. Do I wait for cheaper options to turn up or do I go for these, taking their merits into account? The merits would be that these two books come with dust jackets and are described as being in good condition. However is it justified?
Does a dust jacket – often rare items in their own right – mean that I should spend this extra money or do I let them sail by?
This leads me quite nicely to the first section of this case study:
How do you measure the price of a dust jacket? By the condition? Whether your other editions have them? The overall price?
For me I think the condition of the dust jacket is certainly a key factor, as well as my budget for the book. As well as what else is on offer. This might explain why I’m having so much trouble with making up my mind about the Malory Towers books. I like dust jackets; they add something special to the book for me but are they really worth the price they add on to the book?
It is a hard one to call for me. I can never be sure if a dust jacket is work the price.
Condition and Age
I think these two need to be grouped together because sometimes age is part of the condition. For example; foxing on the pages is part of the condition of the book but is also part of ageing, especially with the older editions. Of course the general age of a book can certainly impact the condition of the book. If it’s an old book there is a chance that the binding is loose or there will be discolouration of the pages.
The condition of the book also depends on how ‘clean’ the book is. If the book has scribbling in if from a child, it is worth less than a pristine copy. Same goes for tatty and damaged pages. Possibly not so much of an issue with adults’ books, but with children’s books, they receive a lot of attention and aren’t always treated with the same care.
A book’s edition can have a huge impact on its price. The earlier the edition, the dearer the book. First editions are particularly sought-after, often priced into the hundreds or even thousands if they also have condition and dust jacket on their side or even more if they have an authentic signature!
If you’re lucky enough to find a first edition without a dust jacket the price might also be considerably lower. Its all about what you’re looking for I’m afraid.
I have a lot of editions. My Hodder and Stoughton ones range from first editions to around 7th editions. My Hodder paperbacks are something like 75th editions. However for me, it’s more about having those early editions, the Hodder and Stroughton editions for the Famous Fives and the Methuen editions for Malory Towers. As long as I can match the publisher I’m fairly easy about what edition I get. Although, obviously I want as many firsts as I can get. Finding them is another matter. Part of my idea behind not minding which edition I collect means I have a wider field to choose from in regards to sourcing the books
I don’t think I have the right answer for anyone but myself; and that depends on the book and how much I want to own it.
Su managed to complete her Five Find-Outers collection with a wonderful copy of Banshee Towers with dust jacket for £45 while Fiona managed to get herself a very good copy of Banshee Towers without dust jacket for £10. So what do I do with my Malory Towers conundrum?
My mother always says that something is worth only what another person is willing to pay for it. So now I have to decide if it’s worth me spending a minimum of £50 on two books!
As for this case study, I think I would willingly forgo a dust jacket to get the book I wanted at a reasonable price, as long as there were enough options for me to choose from.
How about you? Which aspect would you forgo to complete your collection?