03 January 2008

Ian Fleming, Octopussy 1966.

Ian Fleming. Octopussy and The Living Daylights. Jonathan Cape, London 1966.

Current Selling Prices
$100-$300 /£50-£150

The above photo is of our own copy of 'Octopussy' which sold on Ebay just before Christmas (the happy holidays) at a stonking $740. Over the last few years we have sold about 200 fine/fine copies on ebay with a starting price of $9.99. None made less than $50, a few got over $200 and one over $300. I have a few left and haven't put a copy up for 6 months so this recent result came as a shock.

The reason one is always surprised that 'Octopussy' makes any money at all is that I can vividly remember it being sold in great bulk at 50p or less. A Cecil Court bookseller, one John Adrian of 'The Clearing House' (a Buchanite name) bought 32,000 copies of the first edition in the mid 1980s. The first edition print run was 50,000-- a Bondite website states '...contrary to popular opinion it was not actually remaindered' - but a bulk of new duplicate books bought from the publisher being sold off cheap adds up to remaindering by any other name (in my book.) The site also adds 'copies with unclipped jackets and no signs of a price sticker are preferred' and the Cecil Court bulk had the price in about 3 states. I can actual recall it selling as low as 5p (10 cents) and many customer bought twenty or more at a time. Around 2000 we bought a cupboardful in Chiswick. Our Ebay description, a model of suave brevity, read: -
First state of the first impression of the first edition. (The price on the corner of the dustwrapper's inner flap has not been overlaid with a publisher's revised price sticker.)
Fleming's final published Bond book, with the attractive Richard Chopping-designed dustwrapper
Exceptional condition: both book and dustwrapper are entirely without defect.

* (Important to stress this, it saves many questions--many an Ebayer has bought a book described as a first edition and received a sixth impression or some such worthless item, so it has to be spelled out unequivocally--often with a photo of the actual edition statement. Even then people will email asking how you know it a first and 'are you sure it isn't a later impression?')
VALUE? A quick troll of the massive ABE webmall reveals that fine/fine copies of copies with a later state price (i.e in metric price on label over the 10/6) can be had for £50 to £80 and first state at around a £100. An outfit with the name 'Books Tell You Why' want $1000 for a 'Fine+' copy and $675 for another. A memorable name for a business- combining excruciating cuteness with smug didacticism. How they arrived at such a stroppy price defies speculation.

Several people have copies signed by (Sir) Roger Moore, and Octopussy actors Maud Adams or Maryam d'Abo --these are offered at prices as high as $4500 and even touted as investments. There is evidence that these occasionally get bought - the guy with the $4500 one says that he sold another one also signed by Adams and D'Abo, but this copy is even better because this time Maryam d'Abo has added a heart symbol beneath her name. Helpfully he adds that it was 'real pleasure to catalogue this beautiful-looking little gem of a book!' For those of us who saw this book at 50p these prices will seem risible for a long time to come.


pussreboots said...

I love the cover art!

Anonymous said...

Why the large number of copies of the first edition unsold by mid 80's? Was Bond out of fashion?

Bookride said...

Various reasons. I think it sold slowly because it was insubstantial (95 pages) Fleming was no longer around and it was short stories -not perceived as a great Bond adventure. Later paperback editions came out with an extra story or two and people prefer paperbacks, the Bond collecting thing took off in the early 1970s. A publisher doesn't like to keep pushing a book after about 5 years of its publication and interestingly Cape never issued a hardback reprint...