Easton Press is a publisher of fine books, best known for their classic reprints. There is a brisk market in these books which are meant more for display than for reading. Most of their books have full leather covers, banded spines, gold gilt page edges, beautiful silk endpapers, attached satin book marks and more.
Many Easton Press buyers are most familiar with their ‘100 Greatest Books Ever Written’ series (which we believe actually numbers over 100). These vintage classics are typical Easton high quality but on the lower end of value. Most of them usually sell for between $15 and $30. (Be a little careful when purchasing Moby Dick by Melville or Huckleberry Finn by Twain as they’re more common than other titles and should sell on the lower end).
But Easton has published, and continues to publish, many other singles and series, in fewer quantities and of (usually) higher interest to collectors and investors. These include Great Philosophers, Library of The Civil War, Library of Military History, Library of the Presidents, Masterpieces of Science Fiction and many others.
Typically, we’ve found that non-fiction tends to sell better than fiction but that isn’t a concrete rule.
Of special interest are their very limited and signed edition series which includes Signed First Editions and Signed Modern Classics. These two series offer exciting signatures by such notables as Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Silverberg, Mickey Spillane and Michael Crichton. Additional series offer signatures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gerald Ford, Desmond Tutu, Henry Kissinger, Maya Angelou and many others.
Another interesting Easton Press series is the Treasures of the Library of Congress, facsimile reprints of historic books and documents. As facsimiles they are a closer to the originals than they are to the expected Easton leather. So they are somewhat shunned by the average Easton fan but popular among collectors of historical items.
Even less well known (and hardly understood) is Easton’s rare habit of producing single books, usually for a niche hobby or company. These books are often difficult to identity, with few or no outward mentions of Easton press – though the quality is unmistakably Easton and sometimes a small Easton Press logo can be located on the spine (a kind of intricate EP).
We’ve run across a few of these and they include Sports Illustrated Brett Favre the Tribute and The Racetracks Book (these may actually be part of a series that we are unaware of). It’s an enjoyable hunt finding and identifying these books when most people cannot (along with any logo, the silk endpapers are a giveaway).
Easton Press continues to sell books and so the question becomes, should you collect new or used? New Easton Press books typically cost almost $100 – often more. But, if you want the latest offering you’re probably doing best by ordering direct since you’ll be assured of getting a new book with all the inserts and even the mailing box (No! Do not recycle it! The box will add value to the book! Really!). But much less expensive used copies can be found soon after Easton stops selling them and they might be the better option for those among us who are subject to book-buying-budgets. On the other end, there are some condition problems when buying used.
First, some older books do not have the attractive silk endpapers. Instead they have generally bland repeating images on a paper stock. As these volumes weren’t issued with the silk, the price is not affected too much. Though it’s an important point to note when selling (to mitigate the shock of the silk’s absence when first opening). Older issues that do have the silk endpapers often develop some washing or discoloring around the edges. We’re not sure why as sunning would mainly affect the top of the page and we usually find all edges are equally discolored. This is an annoying but (almost) endearing trait among collectors and while it’s much preferable to have no discoloring at all, this problem does not make the edition unsuitable for collecting as we can expect that age will cause most issues to follow this pattern.
Oftentimes the gold gilt page edges suffer from scratches and blemishes – at times small splotches taking on a silvery appearance. But the more durable and visible leather holds up very well with occasional small rubs or scuffs to the very edges.
Bookplates are the main concern among collectors. As far as we know, Easton issues all of its books with detached, sticker type bookplates to be filled out by the owner. Kind of like marking their territory. It’s a matter of taste as to whether one finds the actual, unused bookplate, to be attractive (we feel most are far below Easton’s otherwise high standards), but no one really wants a book with another person’s scribbling – bookplate or not. So a filled out and stuck-on bookplate does affect the value – dropping it from about 10 to 20%. Yes, an immediate way to slash the value of your Easton Press book is to scar it with a bookplate.
On the other side, the loose and unused bookplate and other publisher inserts (typically a Certificate of Authenticity or ads, along with the shipping box) included with the book add about 10 to 15% to the value.
Easton Press books are a great way to make an attractive bookshelf display. The titles alone can be pretty common but this modern-times publisher puts a lot of effort and style into their book design and production. As a reward, they’ve built up a pretty loyal fan base that we expect will continue to grow. For these reasons, and more, they can be a fun collectible and a good investment.
You can find our selection of Easton Press books for sale on eBay here: http://stores.ebay.com/iart