Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are hardcover occult books worth the cost?

Hmm, I am a little slow some days--I still not be able to figure out who said what.
One of the latest bits of news is that the ROGD is almost out of signed hardbound copies of Pat Zalewski's Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries. The few remaining copies are currently for sale through the HOGD site.

This got me thinking about something--are hardcover occult books really worth the cost?

In this case of this particular book, I brought a signed hardcover shortly after they came out. I picked my favorite number (the sum of the traditional planets). For me, it was worth the cost. I brought a copy of the previous edition from Pat years ago. It is a book that I consult quite often; it is also a book that I have inflicted bits and pieces of onto my fellow and lady lodge members. Given the amount of use that I have gotten out of the previous edition, I figured that spending some extra money on a hardcover copy was well worth it.

My friends who are familiar with my magical practices can tell what books that I use; they are the books held together with packing tape, or which have fallen out of their covers with the pages now residing in three-ring binders. The exceptions are the books that I own in hardcover...and even they show some wear and tear if they are among the books that I actually use. There is a red hardcover that I own that is blackish with fingerprints.

777 and Other KBL Works (Crowley), Golden Dawn (Llewellyn edition--has been replaced twice), Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia, Modern Magic (the old edition--Kraig), a couple of reference books by Scott Cunningham, a couple of books by Pat Zalewski, and a book by the Ciceros: all of these are taped and falling apart. There are a few others.

On the other hand, I have got some books that show absolutely no wear and tear at all.

"This book is in mint condition. How long have you had it?"
"Since it came out. Karen special-ordered it for me."
"Huh. So in ten years, you have opened it how many times?"
"About two dozen. It is a pretty useless book."
"Yes, I can tell--it is still in mint condition. Still you could probably sell it."
"I will, once I find someone who is willing to submit to highway robbery."

Of course, that is the potential problem with hardcover occult books. Especially those from unknown writers or source books you have never actually seen. You could end up with an expensive hardcover that is good only for weighing down papers that you are gluing together (an actual use of heavy hardcover books in my house).

But overall, I will admit that hardcover editions--the limited editions, that is--tend to hold their value, at least from a collector's viewpoint. And occasionally, even one of the useless ones will leap up in value--provided that you can locate the right buyer--making the investment worthwhile. If you can actually use them, it is a bonus (though in all fairness, you should never use a copy that you brought solely for investment purposes--use of a book wrecks its resale value).

1 comment:

Suecae Sounds said...

This kind of leads me to want to talk about the difference of use-value and market-value. Despite what we think, and I do this myself as well, the latter is never to be trusted. :) The former is much more important, and perhaps especially when it comes to litterature and books that you cherish.

I recently got a used paper-back copy of swedish edition of a excerpts of a select few works by Friedrich Nietzsche: despite the age of this book (printed in 1966) it's stood the test of time.

Even though it is paper-back, the quality is superior to many modern issues - that will turn into crap after two reads. I'd go for hard-bound copy of a good book any day, if they are in my budget. Especially seeing that we need to get away from 'wear and tear' philosophy. To me, this involves choosing to buy books second hand as well.