The Unbearable Banishment: the $3,980,000 harry potter book

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the $3,980,000 harry potter book

I paid a visit to the New York Public Library to view a copy of the excruciatingly rare and valuable The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. From Wikipedia:

The book was originally produced in a limited edition of only seven copies, each handwritten and illustrated by J. K. Rowling. One of them was offered for auction in late 2007 and was expected to sell for $103,000; ultimately it was bought for $3.98 million by Amazon.com, making the selling price the highest achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript.


All that money went to a charity. She’s a good egg, that J.K. Rowling. She motivated a lot of kids to pick up a book and read. Huzzah to her for that!

The other six copies are all in private hands; a gift from the author. The copy on display at the Library belonged to someone at Schoolastic Books who was instrumental in getting Harry Potter published. It’s a really beautiful book. The binding is elegant and Rowling’s drawings are actually quite nice. And what spectacular penmanship! She hand-wrote all seven copies. It must have given her a terrible cramp.



* * *
The New York Public Library is an elegant old mausoleum. Here’s the public internet access room on the third floor.


And here’s the carved wood ceiling in the same room. You have to see it in person. The photos don’t do it justice. Click on that last pic and take a look at the detail.



This past Christmas, they didn’t put the wreaths on Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions out front. The statues are so old that they were afraid they couldn’t support the weight of the wreaths. Isn’t that sad? They may never put the wreaths on them again.

10 Comments:

Blogger A Free Man said...

What do you reckon Amazon did with it?

I'm with you on J.K. She gets a lot of flak from literary snobs and the crazy religious, but if kids are reading rather than watching TV or playing video then we could use a few more of her.

January 14, 2009 at 9:28 PM  
OpenID nursemyra said...

I've been in that room *sigh*

January 15, 2009 at 2:19 AM  
OpenID popomaticjeff said...

I used to work in a building a few blocks from the library and would spend my lunches wandering around it.

January 15, 2009 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

AFM: I found the whole “Amazon bought it” to be very mysterious and circumspect. I suppose it’s sitting in and Amazon.com executive’s house, bought with company funds.

Nurse: The city eagerly awaits a visit from you…

Pop: It’s a great refuge on a cold winter afternoon.

January 15, 2009 at 4:02 PM  
OpenID daisyfae said...

makes me feel a little bad for only visiting sites like this abroad... need to do more domestic touring. fabulous building. would make me feel guilty surfing "weird news" sites...

January 15, 2009 at 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

$3.98 million? How much extra does Amazon make when they convince you to boost the size of your order to qualify for free shipping?

January 15, 2009 at 11:59 PM  
Anonymous nuttycow said...

Thanks for the photos.

At the risk of sounding ever so British... how old is "too old"?

January 16, 2009 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

It's so annoying when the photocopier packs up.

January 16, 2009 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

daisy: NYC is a very short plane ride away, as you recently discovered.

rob: They have to pay for the book SOMEHOW! Apparently, those extra pennies add up to millions.

nutty: Good point. "Old" to the U.S. is merely a babe to the U.K. We’re just a colony.

K: Annoying but lucrative.

January 16, 2009 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Ahh, love that hand written touch. So much is type written these days...god I sound like an old fogey, but I love handwritten stuff.

January 16, 2009 at 5:40 PM  

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