Tuesday, 3 June 2008

New Naturalists

The Collins New Naturalist series has in recent years been the subject of a hyper inflationary price rise. Collectors have been snapping them up, and there has appeared a group of obsessive collectors, who must have first editions, complete with mint dust wrappers. Now to a naturalist such as myself, this is plain daft. In some cases the second editions are of course more use, because any typos and other errors have been dealt with. And a dust wrapper (very attractive in the case of most New Nat's) is only a piece of easily reproduced paper. In fact I am sure there are a significant number of fakes floating around, since modern photocopies make it very easy, and there are plenty of suckers who will pay a huge premium for one of the rarer volumes if it has a near mint dust-wrapper. And one of the rarer volumes is also the one on Ants, which was actually withdrawn by the publishers (making it rare). Therefore, it is a collectors market, not a naturalists demand that has pushed the prices up. So it was with great delight I noticed that the market appears to be becoming saturated, and confidence is declining. One can now go on to eBay and buy many of the titles at significantly less than their apparent "market value". And even at these greatly reduced prices, they are not actually selling -- perhaps because the dealers are not snapping them up any more. This can only be a good thing for the book buying naturalists. The New Naturalist books are without question some of the finest publications available, but they need to be used. Not put in some collectors cabinet to form a set.

1 comment:

  1. I had a half-baked plan to write a New Naturalist book, buy as many copies as I could (as author I would get them at trade price), stockpile and wait for the price to rocket.

    What I have got is a run of the earlier volumes which my father received as review copies (free!). But they became working books: tatty, bent, stained, dustjackets torn or missing. I always bought the paperbacks because they were affordable.

    I once found a long-soughtafter polar book in a collectors' secondhand shop. The proprietor was most apologetic that one of the preliminary pages was missing. And was upset when I said that I had bought it to read so the missing page was redundant.

    Books are for reading not investment!