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Make Money Online from First Edition Books

Make Money Online from First Edition Books

When looking for ways of how to make money online there is no need to neglect some of the more traditional avenues. Not all your money needs to come from Adsense or affiliate programs. In fact it makes sense to diversify and it also makes sense to invest some of your money in areas that will rise slowly over time without you having to do anything about them - value investing as Warren Buffett would call it. For example the art market is booming at the moment.

Unfortunately we can't all afford to buy works of art but there are other areas worthy of attention. My own particular interest lies in Signed First Edition books. Why do I buy first editions ? Well, as one collector put it : "I buy first editions, because I can't afford the second editions!" His point being that a second edition book loses its value and can only be sold on as a second-hand book, i.e. for a few cents or pennies. A first edition book on the other hand will rise in value (particularly if it is signed), so your purchase is actually an investment and you will often get your money back several times or hundreds of times over.

Everyone has heard of J K Rowling, Stephen King etc... and signed first editions by these authors are highly sought after and therefore very expensive. But there are new kids arriving on the block all the time, at the moment two such are Angie Sage (Septimus Heap : Magyk) and Roderick Gordon (The Highfield Mole or Tunnels as it is now called) - for information about these two rising stars both of whom have just signed lucrative film deals see Invest in the Next Harry Potter and Septimus Heap

A recent survey by Zurich (an insurance company) showed that people under 40 see collectibles - paintings, comics and books, cigarette cards, medals, pre-1950 football programmes and glassware as a good form of investment for their retirement.

Men are more likely than women to invest in collectibles, often finding them in antiques markets. Martin Hall of Zurich said: "It seems that old valuables are the new investments for modern professionals. Our research shows they're more interested in ... antiques and collectables, than any other generation before them."

Some modern First Edition books can fetch thousand of pounds/dollars/euros. Signed first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling being the holy grail of modern first editions at the moment. Even signed copies of her new book 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' the final Harry Potter have been selling for around $4,000 on eBay (provided you got the right limited edition and it was signed by J K Rowling herself at midnight!).


In the world of online trading the modern books that make the most money are those that gain a 'cult following' by authors such as J K Rowling, Christopher Paolini, Tolkien, Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett. The trick when it comes to buying modern first editions is either to buy one, preferably signed, from somebody who doesn't know how much it is worth, but that doesn't happen too often, or to buy something that is already very sought after and wait a few years for the prices to rise.


A third strategy is to identify the stars of the future who are currently unknown. A signed Harry Potter bought in 1997 for a few pounds is now worth several thousand (providing it is still in good condition). Similarly a signed copy of the true first edition of Eragon is now worth around $1,000 or more.

Tips for identifying future stars



  • Look for new authors publishing their first novels

  • It is better if the book had very few copies printed in the first edition i.e. a couple of thousand or even better a couple of hundred, this makes them scarce.

  • The book needs to be able to generate a 'cult following' and/or become a Hollywood film (e.g. Eragon - look for the edition printed by Paolini himself - at the moment they are already worth between 1 and 2,000 USD)

  • A self-published book that is subsequently published by one of the major publishing houses e.g. Shadowmancer, or Eragon again

  • Books that develop into 'series' e.g. Lemony Snickett or Cornelia Funke or now Angie Sage

  • Modern books are worth a lot more if they are signed by the author (unfortunately there are lots of fake signatures around)

  • At the moment it is the kids/teenager fantasy, magic, mystery, adventure dragon genres that are the most popular (far more collectable than books by 'proper' literary authors )

  • An author's first novel will usually be worth more than his/her second, third, fourth, fifth etc...

  • The novel must be the First Print (sometimes called the First Impression) of the First Edition - beware : people advertise all sorts of rubbish as first editions, you must make sure it is the first PRINT which usually (99 times out of a 100) means it must have the number 1 in the print line on the copyright page

There is a wealth of information on the Internet about first editions. A good place to start buying them is Ebay, just make sure the seller has good feedback, read the description very carefully and check it is a First PRINT of the First Edition. Also make sure the book is in excellent condition, i.e. no marks, scratches, bumps, stains etc...

Comments and suggestions very welcome. Have a nice day !



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