Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rising Prices for "Iconic Books"

Bruce McKinney, in Americana Exchange, see a developing distinction in rare book markets between

the increasingly separate iconic and traditional rare book, manuscript and ephemera markets. They have been moving in diverging [directions] for some time. Great examples of rare and unique items have been selling for substantial prices while no less rare but less known and less coveted material has gone unsold or brought lower than expected prices. As the market has become increasingly transparent the many now see what the few have long known and it is changing what people buy and how much they pay. We are living through a time of significant change: the re-pricing of the market. The iconic category looks safe, pedestrian rarities risky, the in-between the subject of endless interpretation.
He credits this separation to "increasing transparency and increasingly unified markets functioning in real [time]," with the result that "highly collectible material should continue to do well while lesser materials continue to leak value."

McKinney's definition of an "iconic book" as "highly collectible" overlaps considerably with this blogs use of the term. But we also draw attention to books that are commonplace yet revered and ritually privileged, like scriptures. My experience with last summer's garage sale shows, though, that iconicity makes even the most commonplace Bibles collectible.

(h/t David Stam)

No comments: