Collectible Novelists

Kenneth Gloss, the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston, whose bookstore sells general used books and rare books, reported to Bloomberg in 2020 that rare books and manuscripts have proven to be the bright spot in the industry. The consensus among dealers of rare books is that overall the market has sustained itself, even though the rest of retail has been thrown into turmoil. In fact, the hotspots in this market have soared past many experts’ expectations driven primarily by high demand for first editions and the more desirable signed copies. Individual titles are being affected by factors such as: popularity of the author, the condition of the book, the scarcity of the copies available for sale, the significance of the book, the cultural impact of the book, and many others less prominent.

The two most important factors driving pricing are the popularity of the author, and the scarcity of the title. Our Rare Book Sales Monitor has selected the top ten most collectible authors during these, the early years of the 21st-century. Ten authors all of whom have made their mark over the last 23 years, with new, successful novels and or have continued to grow in popularity and scarcity with some of their earlier works.

J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling: The author of the Harry Potter series and other fantasy books has a huge fan base and a global influence. Her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in 1997 with a small initial print run of only 500 copies. Still popular today with over 2 million shelvings, and with signed first editions trading at mid five-figures.  The Harry Potter universe attracted both old and new fans of the series with many successful film and play adaptations. She maintains a strong online presence where she expresses her opinions on various political and cultural issues .


Philip K. DickPhilip K. Dick: He is considered to be one of the most important figures of the 20th century science fiction, with 44 novels and about 121 short stories. Dick’s works are very popular during this century still, because his writings are inspiring movie producers. Nine films this century alone were based on his stories and future films are in the works. His themes and concepts have become more relevant this century. He anticipated many of the issues and dilemmas that we face today, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, surveillance, climate change, and authoritarianism.


Aldous HuxleyAldous Huxley: Dystopian novels have seen renewed popularity this century as a result of political instability and the pandemic. Progenies of Huxley’s thinking, (a one-man vanguard of the counterculture), feel his works describe the impact which defines much of today’s political landscape. Huxley’s Brave New World, in particular, reached new heights this year with a first edition copy which sold for $15,000 on Abebooks.


George OrwellGeorge Orwell: Another powerful dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, a projection of life under totalitarian rule, and a warning of a future world where the state machine exerts complete control over social life. It also popularized the term “Orwellian” as an adjective, with many terms used in the novel entering common usage, including “Big Brother”, “doublethink”, “Thought Police”, “thoughtcrime”, “Newspeak”, and “2 + 2 = 5”.  First printing of the British edition in original red dust jacket traded for $17,550 this year.


Cormac McCarthyCormac McCarthy: Even though, Blood Meridian (1985), is regarded as his magnum opus despite its initial disappointing critical and commercial reception, his later works at the turn of this century brought greater recognition to his older novels. More recent works such as: The Road, All the Pretty Horses, and No Country for Old Men fueled his popularity and demand for the older Blood Meridian, Suttree, and The Orchard Keeper. After his death this year, the Blood Meridian has been trading around $5,000.


Joan DidionJoan Didion: Didion’s novels resound through generations. So much of Didion’s writing remains current because she wrote about the unrest of people and places we know well.  A pioneer of New Journalism and a master of literary style, she addressed issues such as racism, feminism, grief, and morality. A Netflix documentary, “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” in 2017, explored her life and career and increased public interest in her work. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2013.


Stephen KingStephen King: With many famous works to his name, including over 64 novels, the “King of Horror,” received his biggest recognition at the beginning of the century. Among the awards to his name, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and a National Medal of Arts from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts. The Shining remains his most popular book, selling over 700,000 copies so far.


James BaldwinJames Baldwin: His writings are relevant and insightful for the current social and political climate. The historical importance of social injustice is revisited once again in this period of political and social reaction. Baldwin was a visionary who foresaw the challenges and opportunities that America would face in the 21st century. Go Tell it on the Mountain is a powerful coming-of-age novel that delves into themes of race, religion, and identity in 1930s Harlem.  Expect to pay over $5,000 for a first edition.


Sir Terry PratchettSir Terry Pratchett: Pratchett’s mighty Discworld series is a high point in modern fiction. With more than 100 million books sold worldwide in 43 languages, Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author at the turn of the century. First edition of the first Discworld novel in the author’s acclaimed series, The Colour of Magic, reported to have comprised 500 copies, but 400 of these were seemingly issued to libraries within the United Kingdom.


Frank HerbertFrank Herbert: Back in 1963, publisher after publisher rejected to publish Dune. Today Dune is considered to be the best-selling sci-fi novel of all time. It was followed by five sequels which were also well received:  Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse; and two Sci-Fi Channel miniseries aired in 2000 and 2003.




Behavioral FinanceFinancial analysts have been aware for quite a long time that excess market volatility is a phenomenon which cannot be rationalized by the principles of fundamental analysis and statistical technical analysis alone. The task to identify what drives stock prices and what drives investors’ decision making is incomplete without the addition of the emerging field of behavioral finance. Behavioral finance is stuck with identifying the forces of market psychology and its effects on the overall sentiment steering market trends and pricing. It deals with psychological factors which influence the nature of human beings, a departure from rational performing factors such as: economic activity, consumption, investment, and interest rates. Human investors are greatly influenced by cognitive and emotional biases, and are subject to the sway of herd instinct. At the core of behavior finance is the development of rigorous models to provide insight into market sentiments for better measurement of future pricing.

A 1922 paper titled Overreaction and Diagnostic Expectations in Macroeconomics, by Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, and Andrei Shleifer, is highly cited at the American Economic Association this year. The authors used the Survey of Professional Forecasters and Blue Chip survey data for future four-quarter forecasts with a large set of macroeconomic variables in their research. Their conclusion contrary to rational expectations: individual forecasters overreact most of the time. They started their research after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the ensuing meltdown of the US financial system. Nicola Gennaioli, and Andrei Shleifer authored a book published by Princeton University Press about it in 2018:  “A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility.” The book presents a new theory of belief formation that explains why the financial crisis came as such a shock to so many people―and how financial and economic instability persist.

The authors’ most recent work focused on building upon the new framework for understanding today’s unpredictable financial waters. Their paper Overreaction and Diagnostic Expectations in Macroeconomics, describes the addition of one psychologically well-founded parameter to the rational expectations model to account for overreaction. Future research focuses on refining this model to include a second parameter to account for underreaction.

The importance of such work is groundbreaking. Adding human sentiment to measurements in dynamic Macroeconomic expectations using basic psychological principles, and empirical analysis, will lead to more accurate predictions. This comes at a time when GPU-accelerated data science, is substantially reducing infrastructure costs with superior performance for end-to-end data macroeconomic workflow projects.

On October 9th, the Nobel Prize in Economics, for 2023, will be awarded. There is a very good chance that Andrei Shleifer, Nicola Gennaioli, and Pedro Bordalo will be this year’s Nobel laureates. Historical data shows that demand for the works of the Nobel laureates increases in the weeks immediately following the Swedish Academy’s announcement. Readers are generally interested in the books of a recent Nobel Prize laureate, fueling demand for all types of works published by them. The increase in demand to a relatively static supply, often leads to higher prices at least until more copies are made available when feasible.

Last year, Andre Chevalier accurately predicted that the Nobel Prize in Literature was to be awarded to the French author Annie Ernaux. Her most recent book in English at the time, “Getting Lost”, bearing her signature, was selling around $500, which was a tenfold increase in price prior to the announcement. Andrei Shleifer and Nicola Gennaioli have no recent publications besides various papers published in journals, such as, the Journal of Political Economy and the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Even though the original book A Crisis of Beliefs: Investor Psychology and Financial Fragility does not include the recent research on overreaction measurement, it does present the foundational research that leads to that. There are multiple copies available at bottom level prices, but, that could change on October 9.


The Mechanical Models of Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind

July 30, 2023
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Advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing with unexpected speed, spreading across nearly every industry and discipline. The stakes in the race for generative AI are rising and technology companies are spending big. With the proliferation of big data and large-scale data lakes, we have now entered the world of large language models of chatbots […]

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Tesla’s Controversial Articles, a Meme Phenomena

July 6, 2023
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  In one study, scientists at McGill University in Canada used eye-tracking technology to study which news articles volunteers paid most attention to. They found that people often chose stories about negative criticism in preference to positive or neutral stories. They concluded that people in general are more interested in inappropriate, offensive, or controversial news, […]

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The Fictional Mystery Dartmouth College Wished Away

March 5, 2023
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In June 1920, a few minutes after a dispute at a Dartmouth College dorm room, Bob Meads, a sophomore, who sold bootlegged whiskey he sourced from Canada, fatally shot senior, Hank Maroney of the Theta Delta Fraternity. Another Dartmouth College sophomore at the time, Clifford “Kip” Orr, deeply affected by the murder of his classmate, […]

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Cyberpunks among us

January 28, 2023
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We have entered the cyberpunk age. Many of the things that were predicted in cyberpunk literature are here now. The global cyber threat continues to evolve at a rapid pace, with a rising number of data breaches each year. Viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, adware, botnets, SQL injections, phishing cyberattacks developed by malicious programmers, threaten individuals, […]

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Helen Frankenthaler’s Valentine Art

January 11, 2023
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Helen Frankenthaler, a dominant figure in the abstract art world watered my plants when I went away for the weekend.  She lived diagonally across the street from me on a point of land surrounded on three sides by Long Island Sound.  We were neighbors sharing the same street address.  I don’t remember how we started […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – End of 2022 Edition

December 11, 2022

Back to Boston for the first time since the pandemic, the in-person format had an impact on the performance of the 3rd ABAA Virtual Book Fair: Boston. This year the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) decided to combine the convenience of online commerce with the community of in-person book fairs. The 44th Boston Book […]

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Ballets Russes: a gift to Modernism

November 9, 2022

The arrival in Europe of the Ballets Russes led by impresario Sergei Diaghilev on the eve of the First World War, revived interest in the ballet and launched the modern era in performance dance. Ballets Russes is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century as well as an important promoter […]

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Our Nobel Prize Nominations of the Literature Laureates

September 19, 2022

Historical data shows that demand for the works of the Nobel laureates tend to increase in the weeks immediately following the Swedish Academy’s announcement. That is because there are many aspiring Nobel laureate collectors who rush to add some of the latest winner’s offerings to their collections. On a broader scale, readers are generally interested […]

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