Nov/Dec 2018 edition
Issue #2 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
The majority of our customers buy books for their content or pleasure. However, there are an increasing number who are also buying one or more copies as investments. Motoring books have always been a sound way of spending your money; not only do you have the enjoyment of reading the book, but once on your shelf many will steadily rise in value.
Most motoring titles have low volume print runs, typically between 1000 and 3000 copies. When publishers decide to print fewer books on certain subjects they can sell out very quickly. The numbers fall further with the passage of time; some copies will be damaged, lost or discarded.
Just as in any market place, there are definite trends with motoring books. Titles rise and fall in popularity according to the change in trends in the wider motoring arena. The motoring literature market, without doubt, closely follows the classic car market, or indeed pre-empts changes in this sector. For me this is fascinating, as I often can see a changing trend in the car market with the emergence of a new ‘hot’ model, or the decline of a current one as we start to see an increase or decrease in related literature sales. Consequently, if investing in motoring literature, there is definitely a time to buy and sell. As with many very limited editions of any product, there are some that are so limited, they will always be rare, always be desirable, and always hold their value, and often steadily rise.
If considering books as an investment, then new books are the best way of achieving a profit as the right books tend to increase in value the moment they are out of print, and rarely fall below their original published price. More often than not, recently out of print titles will double in value. Additionally by buying new, you can ensure the book is in optimum condition, and if looked after, maximize its future value. Condition is vital, it is always best to select mint copies of new books.
For out of print titles, look for the best possible condition available. After purchasing new or OP, you should not be afraid to enjoy them, even if you have purchased them for investment purposes. Look at them carefully and ensure they are stored in a relatively cool, dry environment, out of sunlight and direct fluorescent lights.
There are thousands of motoring titles. You do not have to be a connoisseur to recognize the good and the not so good. However, there are exceptions to every rule, it is not uncommon to find a title of mediocre quality being a good investment. In these cases it is usually a book that covers an area of motoring that hasn’t been covered before. There are a plethora of reasons why a book might have low production qualities or imperfect content, but despite this, it turns into a good investment, simply because nothing else exists on the subject.
My advice would be to pick marque history books first. The cars will always have an owner, or be changing owners, and people will always want to research the cars they buy whether now, or in the future. Then I would recommend the more specific the better. For example, a focused book on a Ferrari 250 SWB is going to more desirable long term than a general book on all Ferrari models.
If the model specific book contains chassis data or race results (where applicable) this will only enhance its desirability. This is essential information that owners, prospective owners and enthusiasts want and need. Finally, if the book is a limited edition, numbered, signed or distinctive in a particular way, it will almost always carry a premium over its ‘standard’ publication equivalent.
Correctly and professionally binding books in leather is a very expensive process. Due to the high costs, publishers are obviously forced to significantly increase the price of the leather-bound edition vs. the standard edition. It is essential to keep this in mind, purely from an investment point of view, especially as the two editions often have the same content. It is quite common, almost the norm in fact, for the standard edition to outperform its leather-bound sister on the aftermarket in terms of percentage return. Always ask advice, most professional vendors will give you their honest opinion. It is also advisable to check with them about the print numbers and whether the book is likely to be reprinted or not.
If you decide to invest in motoring books, choose wisely and you can be assured that the returns are there. There are numerous examples. Highlighting just one....a very limited edition Bentley book, published 10 years ago, which originally retailed for $600.....today sells in the region of $7,500!
To read more great columns like this one from automotive book expert Ben Horton...