This Harry Potter Book Fetched $69,000 (and Other Books That Are Worth a Pretty Penny)

By: Riley Brown | Published: Dec 24, 2023

Could your bookshelf be worth several thousand dollars? Believe it or not, your books don’t have to be centuries old to rake in some serious cash.  

The first step to profiting off of your library is to know the worth of your books — just like the $69,000 copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that came through Hansons Auctioneers.  

A Tale of Chance: How Did This Book Wind Up at Auction?

Sometimes, the most unexpected experiences can lead to profits. The person who found the book and turned it into Hansons found it at the back of a Scottish bargain bin — paying just 10 pounds for it at the time. 

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A bargain table is shown, with several titles featuring discount stickers on their dust jackets.

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This equates to about $12-$13 — and was sold at a price of $69,000 through Hansons Auctioneers. 

All About the Book: What Makes Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone so Valuable?

Here, it’s not the book’s content that makes it valuable. It’s when it was printed.

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A side-by-side comparison between 1997 and 1998+ editions of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are featured.

Source: Reddit

This specific copy was confirmed by the Auctioneers to be a first edition, printed in 1997. The anonymous finder had found it in the bargain bin over two decades prior, without the knowledge that there were only 500 printed copies in circulation. 

Does Condition Matter?

While many books carry inherent value for content or print date, quality can sometimes matter. 

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“This was a genuine, honest first issue and a…well-preserved sample.” Hansons’ book expert Jim Spencer noted to CBS News. His confirmation and external evaluation of the book contributed to its profitability.

Is There a True Strategy Beyond Aging?

While many book collectors and experts tout their own strategies, many agree that aging can add value to a book or a relic. 

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A personal library is pictured, showcasing the dedication that readers have to their books.

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The anonymous seller noted in an interview with CBS News that she had “stored the book away…in a cupboard under the stairs” once she knew that it could still have value, despite it not being in mint condition. 

Why Were Only 500 Copies Printed?

There are many reasons why publishers might do a limited run for a specific title. In this case, it was due to a titular change. 

A stack of Harry Potter books

Source: PaisleyReads

The book, after the limited run, was re-titled to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic was the original publisher of this title, releasing 50,000 copies of the version in 1998. 

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Reader’s Digest Fuels the “Run on Books” for Many Reading Enthusiasts

Reader’s Digest maintains a list of the most valuable books available to date, encouraging many avid readers to evaluate their own library. 

The Reader’s Digest logo is pictured against a plain white background.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Included on this list is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “First Folio” by Shakespeare, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger — specifically the model that was published in 1950. 

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What First Editions Are Highly Valuable (Per Reader’s Digest)?

Beyond the titles mentioned above, other valuable first editions include The Canterbury Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Great Expectations, and Ulysses. 

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Frost Books & Artifacts

The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, Casino Royale, and The Tale of Peter Rabbit also make this list.

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What Should I Do if I Want to Profit From My Library?

Many books, first edition or not, are considered to be valuable depending on the condition they are in. If you’re considering putting a title up at auction, consider getting it evaluated first.  

An assessor reviews a submission to determine its value.

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A book critic, a cultural expert or an auction specialist can help you to determine how much your book is truly worth, assisting you in the decision-making process. 

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Why Are First Editions Valuable?

Many may find first editions valuable for their own sentimental value or purpose. However, a primary reason for their high valuation is their uniqueness. 

Two side-by-side book images are shown along with highlighted and circled errors that could enhance their rarity.

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These books are the publisher’s “first run,” and may contain changes or errors that make the book more rare or unique from a collector’s standpoint. 

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How Do I Know if I Have a First Edition Book?

Publishers and authors can denote a first-edition book in different ways. Some may write ‘first edition’ on the copyright page at the front of the book. 

A first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is pictured, with the first edition confirmation circled.

Source: Reddit

You might also see a ‘1’ on the copyright page, which could indicate that it’s a first edition. A book expert is a helpful resource if you’re trying to age a book. 

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What Affects My Book’s Value?

There are many different things that can affect the value of your book, whether it’s an older edition or not. 

An assortment of books with varying value is pictured, lined up in a dark bookcase.

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These elements include whether the book is a first edition, whether the book is signed by the author and the condition of the book. The presence of a dust jacket can also affect the sale price. 

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