Blowing the Book Budget: When a novel costs as much a new car…or house

Image via Wikimedia

A couple weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas for a business conference. I stayed at the Venetian, admiring its luxurious decor, enjoying its fine dining, and revisiting its fun and flirty Tao nightclub.

Nothing about this hotel, or Vegas in general, is understated. All the cocktails and craps tables are encouraging you to do one thing: spend a ton of money. And this is ever more apparent when strolling past the Grand Canal shoppes, where upscale designers like Prada and Jimmy Choo tantalize you with their gorgeous clothing and accessories.

Image via Wikimedia

But as much as I would love a pair of Christian Louboutins, I decided that my tax refund would be better spent paying off the rest of my student loan. Being debt free feels so much better than those red-soled heels, and now I can save for such splurges.

When it comes to reading, though, money doesn’t really cross my mind. Sure, I visit the library when I can, but $15 here and there won’t put me over the edge. Reading is an inexpensive hobby, and compared to the $800 shoes I was lusting over, books are more bang for your buck since they open your mind to new places and perspectives.

Image via Vegas Chatter

However, Vegas doesn’t do inexpensive, and books are no exception. One of the stores that stopped me in my tracks was Bauman Rare Books, which also has two other locations in New York City and Philadelphia. If you’re a millionaire interested in first editions and signed copies of literature’s finest, then this is the place for you.

To give you an idea of their selection, here are some of their offerings:

  • First edition of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye: $24,000
  • First edition, first issue of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath: $35,000
  • Gone with the Wind, inscribed by author Margaret Mitchell: $38,500
  • First American edition of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick in original cloth: $68,000
  • First edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses: $110,000
  • Fourth folio of Shakespeare’s plays with custom box and original spine: $225,000

Just staring at some of these prized pieces in the store windows was overwhelming; I couldn’t bring myself to actually walk in for fear of wasting everyone’s time. It’s not like I could keep the tags on and return them the next day!

But Bauman got me fantasizing about what books I’d buy if money were no object. Shakespeare is the creme de la creme, of course, but I’d be delighted by owning original ancient Greek or Latin literature, or an autographed copy of The Lord of the Rings. And since I’d have an unlimited budget, I could afford the bulletproof glass cases and sophisticated security system I would need to install in this distinguished library of mine!

So let me know what’s on your wish list! If you won the lottery, which rare books would you add to your collection?

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2 thoughts on “Blowing the Book Budget: When a novel costs as much a new car…or house

  1. Wow, I’d be curious to find out what the sum of every book in there would be! I’m right there with you on owning original Ancient Greek and Latin literature, maybe an original hand written copy of the Mahabharata (can’t italicize. Dang iPhone!), if they had it? Oh, and a first edition of The Great Gatsby (!!!) would make me a happy man!

    I’m going to go to Vegas, win all my money on roulette and take my winnings to this place 🙂

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