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Collecting Harry Potter books is becoming more and more popular.
After the initial release in 1997, Harry Potter books have gathered a worldwide following. The first book was so popular that the author, JK Rowling, decided to write another six entries into the series of books – seven in total.
Harry Potter and the universe of these books have gathered almost a cult-like following.
Many people still have fond memories of these books, and since there are seven entries, they have also become highly collectible.
That’s why more and more people today are collecting Harry Potter books as pieces of memorabilia.
In this article, we’ll talk about collecting Harry Potter books and everything you need to know if you’re looking to enter this hobby.
Collecting Harry Potter Books – What’s It All About?
Collecting Harry Potter books might seem like a task that’s not too hard to complete. After all, you might be able to find all of the seven books in the book store next to your home, right?
Before you jump the gun and draw any conclusions that this is not for you, you need to know that there’s a lot more to collecting Harry Potter books than just buying all of them online.
With book collecting, it’s all about the first edition books – the original books from the first releases. That’s where the value is.
That’s because of several reasons:
- The first edition books were closest to the author’s original intent as possible
- The owner of the books didn’t exactly know that these books were going to be such a huge success
- Some of these books are also different from subsequent editions
- There were not as many copies printed as in later editions
- First edition books are rarely found in good condition
On top of that, the first editions of the earliest entries of these sets of books are going to be the most valuable as well.
That’s why book 1, “The Philosopher’s Stone”, is going to be more valuable than later books.
The original book 1 was released and printed by Bloomsbury on June 30, 1997. This first edition book only had 500 copies. Today, it can sell for a five-figure amount, especially if it is preserved well. It will only become more and more valuable as time goes by.
Condition Matters – And Other Factors that Determine the Price
When you’re looking for a first edition book, one of the first things you’ll want to inspect is the print number of the book.
This number is located near the beginning of the book. In first edition books, you’ll find a set of numbers that will tell you in which order the book was printed. These numbers might look something like this:
The last number indicates the print number of the book. In this case, this was the very first book ever printed, which makes the book one of the most valuable books overall.
You’ll also want to make sure that the year of the release is the same as the original release year of the book. In this case, it is 1997 (The Philosopher’s Stone), which is the right year for this book.
Let’s take a look at another example.
In this case, we also have The Philosopher’s Stone from the first edition. The only difference here is that this book was printed as the 60th book (indicated by the last number from 57 58 59 60).
Other Factors that Determine the Price
You’ll also see that as with sports cards, the prices of books will vary based on several factors:
- Condition – one of the most important things to consider when collecting Harry Potter books. The better the book is preserved, the more it is going to cost.
- Print number – the rarer the book is, the more it is going to be worth.
- Country of release – in general, UK-printed first edition Harry Potter books tend to be a bit more valuable than those printed in the US or Australia.
- Autographed books – if you see an autograph on a Harry Potter book, you should be a bit wary. It is not uncommon to see forged autographs and often with JK Rowling autographs, you’ll find a special sticker that denotes its authenticity. Autographed books can be worth a bit more than non-auto books.
- Hardback vs paperback – Lastly, hardback books tend to be a bit more valuable than paperback books, mainly because they withstand the test of time better than paperback books.
- Rarity – now, first edition books tend to be a bit rarer than later editions, because normally, the print runs for these books were quite low. For example, The Philosopher’s Stone first edition only had about 500 copies initially, which makes each copy that much more valuable.
Top 5 Most Valuable Harry Potter Books to Collect
So now that you know more about collecting Harry Potter books and what makes one valuable, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive Harry Potter books to collect.
These books are ranked approximately in terms of their values but know that these values can change and will fluctuate, so the list might change along the way.
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Book 1, 1997)
This is the one, the Holy Grail of Harry Potter books. The book number one in the series that started the craze.
This book was released on the 26th of June 1997 in the UK, while it was also released in the US in January of 1998.
It is not only the most expensive Harry Potter book but also one of the most expensive collectible books overall. This one is bound to be a historical book looking forward a few years or decades along the way, so the value is only going to go up.
The original release had only 500 copies – the smallest release of Harry Potter books ever.
Remember, this was the first book that came out, so there was no way of telling that the popularity of this book was going to explode in the coming years.
Hardback books of this type are preferred, although there’s also a real scarcity with softcover books. Hardcover books will be worth a five-figure amount, while softcover books will not be as expensive, but can still cost several thousand dollars.
If you happen to own one of these, then you’re laughing; but how do you know you have one of these?
You should refer to our guide above, but in short, you should make sure that the book was released in 1997 by Bloomsbury, and that it had the famous “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” print number on one of those pages at the start of the book.
2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1 US Edition, 1998)
Remember, the first book of the Harry Potter series was released with a different name for the US market.
The title was changed to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. The reason for this is because the publishers wanted to make the book more appealing to those seeking a book with magic in it.
At 30.000 copies for the first release, this book was still one of the books with the lowest prints. However, the Harry Potter universe was already getting a lot of traction with readers, so there was more demand for this book than the first UK book.
Still, it can cost several thousand dollars for you to get this book, or if you happen to be lucky enough to own it.
You’ll spot this book, again, by looking at the printing reference somewhere near the start of the book.
For this book, you should see that it reads “First American Edition, October 1998”, and you’ll also see the number of the book (its print number), just like with the Philosopher’s Stone we’ve discussed above.
3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2, 1998 UK, 1999 US)
This is the UK version of this book, released in 1998:
And this is the US version, released a year later in 1999:
As you can see, the UK and the US versions had a very different cover, although they had largely the same content. The UK version was released earlier in 1998, so it tends to be a bit more valuable than the US version, which was printed in 1999.
Both can cost thousands of dollars, with the UK version nearing the five-figure amount and is bound to exceed that amount in the future.
The Chamber of Secrets still only had 250.000 copies printed, which, considering that there were millions of readers looking to get their hands on this book, is still a relatively small number.
These books still come from a very early period of JK Rowling’s career, and the fame of Harry Potter was just beginning to spread around the world.
After this book, most subsequent books would have millions of printed books for the first edition (except for the Prisoner of Azkaban, which had 500.000 copies to its name).
Again, if you want to know if you happen to own one of these two books, you’ll need to look at the printing references. Make sure that the printing year says 1998 for the UK version and 1999 for the US version.
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3, 1999)
For the third book in the series called “the Prisoner of Azkaban”, the release dates for the UK and US versions were much closer than the first two books. This time, there was only a difference of one month where the UK version was released in August of 1999, while the US version was released in September of the same year.
The first edition books will have their famous 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 printing numbers on one of the pages at the start of the book.
But one of the more interesting things about this book is that the name of JK Rowling was printed as “Joanne Rowling” on the copyright page, so the book was reprinted after a few thousand books were already printed at first.
There were only a few thousand books with this small error released, so these are going to be a bit more expensive than the other books released with JK Rowling on this page.
Also, you might already find quite a lot of autographed books for this edition, so you’ll want to be a bit careful when you want to buy one of that type. You might come across a lot of forged autographs. Genuine autographs will usually have authentication of some sort which will let you know that the autograph is real.
Overall, the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the most expensive Harry Potter first edition books, as it can cost several thousand dollars in good condition.
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4, 2000)
Book 4 was titled Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. By the time this book was released, Harry Potter had already exploded globally.
This time, not only the writer got some fame, but also the illustrators. You might find many books of this type with an autograph from the illustrators, as well as the writer herself. Again, you’ll want to be a bit wary of the authenticity of these autographs.
The Goblet of Fire first edition book was the first book in the series that had 1 million copies printed.
All subsequent first editions had more than one million copies printed, and the series went from being limited to English-speaking countries to being translated in dozens of languages worldwide.
There’s also much more variety when it comes to what types of memorabilia you can get with this book.
You’ll find many things that people collected as they attended the release party for the book, the signing session, or other events that might have happened when this book was released:
This could be amazing if you’re a hardcore Harry Potter fan and you have a love for something truly authentic.
Overall, the Goblet of Fire is still a valuable book, as the prices for this book will go into thousands of dollars. It ranks highly and other subsequent books are not nearly as valuable as this book since the print runs started becoming increasingly higher.
Remember to check the printing references to make sure that your book is indeed from the first edition, and that it meets the requirements to be branded as such.
Is It Worth Collecting Harry Potter Books?
If you’re a hardcore Harry Potter fan, or if you want to make a good profit out of Harry Potter books, you’ll be able to find something for yourself with Harry Potter books. These books are still quite young, especially when you compare to other classics that came out 50 or 60 years ago.
Down the line, Harry Potter books will be looked at as classic books. There is no doubt that the values of these books are only going to increase, so if you’re looking for a good ROI, there is some long-term potential.
But if you’re just a massive Harry Potter fan and you just like collecting the most authentic Harry Potter books, then you’ll also find quite a lot of value in collecting Harry Potter books.
Which Harry Potter Books Are Worth Money?
First edition Harry Potter books are usually the most valuable books from this series. The first few books will be the most valuable.
Considering all that, the first edition books of the first three or four entries are going to cost several thousand dollars. The most expensive book is the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released in the UK in 1997. The next most expensive Harry Potter book is the Sorcerer’s Stone, which was released in 1998 for the US market.
How Do I Know if My Harry Potter Book Is Valuable?
If you have a Harry Potter book at home and you’re wondering if it is worth anything, you might want to check a few things:
- The release date of the book and the printing year
- The condition of the book
- The print line in the copyright page of the book (it should ideally say 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, which would mean you have a first edition book, which is very valuable)
- The printing country (UK, US, Canada or Australia tend to be most valuable, in that order)
- The number of the book – the earlier, the better
What Are First Edition Harry Potter Books Worth?
First edition Harry Potter books are the most valuable, as they can cost several thousand dollars to five-figure sums, depending on the factors we’ve discussed above. Currently, the most expensive book is the Philosopher’s Stone first edition book. The prices for that book can go into five figures.