Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Silmarillion - Folio edition - 1997

When it comes to the Folio editions of Tolkien books it is always the Silmarillion which appears at the higest prices. This may well be due to a smaller print run, although no official figures have ever been released to support this theory. Whatever the reason, this book has commanded from £35 to £50 on ebay over the past few months, and often gets snapped up very quickly on Buy it Now listings. For myself, I am the kind of person who likes to have a complete set and, already owning the Hobbit and LOTR in the same range, set my sights on this book a month or so ago. I picked up a copy for around £25, which seemed a bargain at the time. However, the book never arrived and (armed with a full refund from a very decent buyer), I went back at it and began the hunt again.

Ebay is a funny old site, and there is certainly a lot to be said about the psychology surrounding how to get the best out of it (both as a seller and a buyer). As a buyer I have two methods of purchasing:

1) If the book is listed at a price that is JUST under what I would pay for it, I will bid right away. This has the psychological effect of putting off people looking at the listing, and was the technique I employed with this book. So, it was listed at £16, and I was looking to pay around £20-£25. I put a bid on right away, knowing that other people looking at the listing were likely to ignore it thinking something along the lines of 'Well there's already someone on it, and therefore it's got at least one competitive bidder for me which is going to push it above my price very easily -I'll just leave it to that bloke'. This idea relies on the fact that others are also looking to pay around the same amount as me, and works more often than not. The essential thing is to not get drawn into a bidding war, but just do this on a regular basis and pick up the bargains that you can find.

2) When a book is listed well below the price I am willing to pay, I wait until there is just one or two minutes left on the auction to bid. This is to avoid those annoying battles with other bidders which take place over a number of days and end up inflating prices to ridiculous levels. For example, a book listed at £50 but worth £150 will often get a few early bids putting it up to, say, £65. If I come in at £70 here, the person outbid has a few days to think, to umm and ahh about bidding. They start to reason that it's not worth losing for the sake of another fiver and often bid again. How do I know this? Because I've done it loads of times myself! This goes vice versa back and forth until the book ends up selling for more than it was worth in the first place. So, I let the guy with the £65 bid think he's got it all clear. Through the week he may have a few little battles pushing the book up to £80 but little does he know I am going to storm in and go to £150. When the auction is nearly finished (two mins to be safe), I will put my big bid on. Now what happens is something I love - the original bidder has the idea of putting one more bid on and goes really high knowing there is no time left. Maybe he goes up to £100. In his head this is a big bid as he has been winning all week for much less. When he sees he is outbid he is so demoralised and stops bidding. It is so deflating to him to feel he has been winning on this book all week and is now outbid, that he loses his fight mentality and gives up on it.

Now, I'm not saying this is always the case, but I have been able to get some real bargains using these two methods (such as today's book at £16 which is as cheap as I have ever seen it!) Of course, if you come across someone like yourself in strategy two, it's a case of setting a realistic limit for yourself. Just last night I lost out on the deluxe folio silmarillion which I was willing to pay £130 for inclusive of insured delivery. I lost out by around £1 (to the dismay of my wife), but of course it could have cost me a lot more than that to beat the other bidder. I'm in this for the long-haul, so there's always another book out there for me to buy! I'm sure some will think my ebay strategies are pointless, but I've found them to pay off more often than not.

So there it is, I ended up with this book for £16 - an absolute steal for sure. When it arrived, I have to say I was surprised at how thick it is (bigger than I expected). I never really thought about this being a long book, but it is much thicker than The Hobbit.

On top of all that, this copy is a misprint, with the binding upside down and back to front. As you can see from one of the pics, this means you open the front cover and find the map! I like this, but my wife asked me "why buy it if it's faulty"? She had a point, and I think there is a fine line where something becomes more collectible because it is misbound and where it's just wrong! For me, as this was a cheap purchase, I was happy with it.

This is the third impression of 2003 and although the slipcase is a bit scuffed, the book is in mint condition. It really confirms my thinking on buying slipcased books, which is that they are worth their weight in gold as the books remain so perfect.

As with the other books in the series, I just love the chunkiness and overall quality of this edition - the book is solid, robust and clean. It is weighty and strong, and the pages are glossy. It definitely looks like a set which will stand the test of time, and is a perfect reading copy for me.

The illustrations are by Francis Mosely, and are certainly a tad better than the rest in the series, although still mostly small and all black and white.

This is the only book in the series to contain a fold-out map, and it's a lovely one too depicting Beleriand. This map sets it out that bit above the rest of the series, and it's a shame they didn't all have them.

All in all this is a nice book, and completes the set nicely for me - now onto the deluxe folio editions!