To celebrate its tenth anniversary, AbeBooks recently compiled a list of the ten most expensive used books that have been sold on its Web site since 1996. The list includes a first edition of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, published in 1937. The book, one of only 1,500 copies printed, sold for $65,000. A copy of the first collection of John Donne’s poems, published in 1633, sold for $60,000. And an inscribed copy of George Orwell’s 1984 sold for $26,500. (Orwell was hospitalized with tuberculosis following the book’s publication, and died shortly thereafter, leaving behind very few signed copies.)
More than 13,500 booksellers are registered members of AbeBooks, which lists eighty million books—including more than a million signed copies—with a total value of $3.4 billion.