Antiques Column: Children’s book publishing is holding its own in the market
My wife has had a birthday. Although the numbers involved are high, it was not a milestone birthday. Since we met, I have always been the youngster of the partnership and as life ticks by this is a fact keenly felt by the light of my life.
However, that aside, we decided a celebration was in order. So, I took a day off work and we went out for lunch.
The lunch was poor, well actually it was terrible, the weather was no better and my present of a well chosen novel put the proverbial tin lid in place. I think I saved the day though by instigating a discussion on books in general and children’s books in particular.
Children’s book publishing is holding its own in a market where many other sectors of the book trade are suffering. The world of television, film and IT has changed the face of entertainment in the minds of many, but children’s books continue to hold their place in our hearts.
Timeless classics like Winnie-the-Pooh, Beatrix Potter or Roald Dahl remain strong sellers, both in their modern reprints in bookshops today and in their original form in auction houses across the country. It is worth remembering though that being in possession of a first edition alone will not always equal a high cash payout. Other factors affect a books value, such as the particular title, the print run, publication date and of course the illustrator.
Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was first published by MacMillan in 1865 with illustrations from Punch cartoonist John Tenniel. Carroll’s classic is constantly inspiring illustrators to rework the story. Many collectors collect for the illustrators and will follow the same story through its many different versions. Roald Dahl’s books are illustrated by the very talented Quentin Blake whose originals fetch high prices in the art market today.
Children’s books are popular in the salerooms today both for their timeless appeal but also because collectors can indulge in the nostalgia of their own childhoods.