Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The World's Most Expensive Inexpensive Bible

Our friend, Maurice Earp, bookslinger at Blackwell Rare Books in the U.K., enjoys sending reports of bizarrely priced books found on Advanced Book Exchange (ABE). I love receiving them yet I never know whether to laugh, cry, or call the book police. This is a job for Tombstone's favorite sheriff, Wyatt Earp, with whom Maurice shares nothing but surname and sharp aim.

Today’s episode of Have You Lost Your Mind? concerns the the large-print edition of the Life Application Study Bible NLT, published by Tyndale House in 2009.

On ABE-UK, there are seven copies being offered by the same dealer, Beagle Books, of Milpitas, CA, USA. Act now, and a copy can be yours for only £66,989.21 ($103,292.55). Plus £3.25 ($5) for shipping. At that price you figure they’d let the shipping cost slide but no.

Holy Bible, Batman!

It’s a $30-$50 book in good to very good condition. But, as always, a premium must be paid for fine/as new copies, hence the dramatic price for the Beagle copies. This beagle must have smelled a potential bonanza and bought a bunch of new copies when this edition of the bible was originally published - one year ago. Shrewd move. Or, perhaps, screwed move.

Five years ago I had a leaf from a Gutenberg Bible pass through my hands. It was priced at $60,000. Here, you get the whole bible for a bit less than twice that amount. It’s a deal of biblical proportions! Another dealer on ABE-UK, Michael Hollan, of St. Petersberg, Florida, USA, is offering another copy of this edition for the exact same price. It, too, is a new copy.

The other three copies being offered are, alas, in merely good to very good condition and are priced accordingly - $30-$50.

I suspect a data upload error to be the culprit. The days of rare book dealer as buccaneer are long gone. (The establishment of trade organizations like ABA, ABAA and ILAB put a halt to diabolical practices like irrational, stratospheric prices to harpoon the unwary and thus made the world safer for collectors).

Here’s hoping someone at Beagle Books, Michael Hollan Books, or ABE-UK wakes up and fixes this. Insane prices do not inspire confidence in buyers.

Not so by the way, new copies can be bought directly from Tyndale House for $69.99. There is a God.


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