Page Turners

Dr Seuss said: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go".

He also said: "You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book," and most people seem to agree - it is estimated book sales will reach $127 billion in 2022 and $134.7bn by 2026.

In addition to the latest best sellers there is a great deal of interest in vintage and first editions. The latter refers to a book's first print run. For some blockbusters, this may be as many as 50,000 copies or more but for older books the first run may have been as few as 100.

Such treasure needs careful management and succession planning is an important consideration, particularly for historical pieces. A copy of the US Constitution sold at Sotheby's in November 2021 for $43.2 million making it the most valuable book or document sold at auction. Owner, Kenneth Griffin plans to display the document in a museum. Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester sold for $30.8 million in 1994 to Bill Gates who had it digitally scanned and later released some images as screen savers and wallpapers for Windows 98 Plus. The 72-page linen manuscript includes Leonardo's thoughts, theories and observations of the world like the movement of water, fossils and the luminosity of the moon.

Particularly collectible are first editions that went on to win a literary prize. Frank Herbert's epic 1965 science-fiction masterpiece Dune won both a Hugo and a Nebula award in 1966, but the cover of the first edition doesn't reference them. Literature does not need to be vintage to be collectible, the success of the Twilight vampire movies made first-edition copies of Stephanie Meyer's 2005 novel of the same name particularly sought after.

First editions produced in the writer's home country are often more prized - J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published by Bloomsbury in the UK in 1997 before being re-titled by Scholastic in 1998 for the US market as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The first Bloomsbury edition numbered around 1,000 copies, is the only book in the series that credits Joanne Rowling as the author and has a print line number that reads, "10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1."

The quality of a dust jacket can have a significant impact on the value of the work particularly those with highly regarded artwork. Famous covers include those for F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925), John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939), and J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951).

Established in 1991 ILS World is headquartered in the Isle of Man and the private client team is fortunate to support many passionate collectors which has given it an appreciation and understanding for the unique requirements needed to protect this type of asset. The paper and binding of 19th century books needs particular attention and effort, it would not be wise to simply push a first edition onto a crowded bookshelf.

The third US President Thomas Jefferson famously said he couldn't live without books and the literature lover and polymath sold his 6,500 strong collection for $23,950 in 1815 to the United States Government to replace the Library of Congress after it was damaged by the British in the War of 1812. Other well-known collectors are Nigella Lawson who has thousands of cookbooks, the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards has two extensive libraries, one on either side of the Atlantic and Yoko Ono is known to be a collector of rare volumes.

Due to the complexity of managing such a specialist asset the ILS World private client team is experienced at partnering and work in collaboration with external accredited experts and acknowledged industry professionals including storage experts, insurers and valuers.

Why Choose ILS World

As a leading provider of independent fiduciary services to professional advisors, corporate groups, private and digital clients, we are here to help achieve your financial goals.

At ILS World, we don’t restrict ourselves, we like to go beyond the borders. That is why we operate globally. You will find our offices in Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, and Portugal.

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