Monday, September 10, 2012

Answers to Library Edition Questions

One of the editors from Country Living Magazine asked me a series of questions about the Judy Bolton library editions in order to prepare for the article in which the Judy Bolton library editions were to be included.

I gave a large amount of information, since I wanted to make certain that they understood.  My biggest concern was whether they would grasp the actual values of the library editions.  They asked me about both the regular and library editions, which have completely different sets of values.  I was worried that they would apply the regular edition values or the values of the scarce titles to all library editions.  Fortunately, the article gave a flat value of $5 to $10 for the Judy Bolton library editions.

As I have done with other private communications, I have rewritten the questions that were asked of me in my own words.  My answers follow each question.

I assume that all 38 Judy Bolton books can be found in the patterned binding library edition but want to make certain that is correct.  I also assume that Grosset and Dunlap is responsible for printing the library editions.

I am pretty sure that all 38 titles are available, although I do not have all of them.

Grosset and Dunlap printed the books that were rebound into the library editions but was not responsible for the library bindings.  You will notice that no publisher name appears on the library binding itself, which is a sure sign that the publishing company was not responsible for the library bindings.

Regular editions that were printed by Grosset and Dunlap were at various times donated to libraries.  The regular editions do not hold up well under the constant use to which library books are subjected.  Therefore, many libraries chose to have the books rebound in special reinforced library bindings.

[The italicized words appeared in the article as "Many libraries rebound acquisitions in more durable boards."]

The library sent the donated books to one of the binderies, which then rebound the book for the library.  Most binderies used generic bindings, such as these types of patterns.  Sometimes, the binderies used plain bindings, which are less interesting.

Some of my library bindings have a sticker on the inside back front giving the name of the bindery which rebound the book.  These are some of the names:

The Heckman Bindery, Inc. from N. Manchester, Indiana
American Bindery from Topeka, Kansas
Houchen Bindery LTD from Utica/Omaha, Nebraska
Hoag & Sons' Book Bindery, Inc. from Springport, Michigan

All of the patterned library editions share the same aesthetic even though the series was published from 1932 through 1967.  Were the bindings done during the same time period?  If so, when?  Were the library bindings done by the publisher or another company?

The last comment you made is addressed in my previous answer.  Since the books were rebound and by different binderies, various patterns were used.  Often, the binderies used plain bindings, such as red, blue, or yellow, with no pattern.  I have never collected those since they are not interesting.

The books could have been rebound at any time from when they were fairly new up to the present time.  I have never seen Judy Bolton library editions from before 1950, but I have for other series, so it is possible that some might exist from before 1950.  However, nearly all of the Judy Bolton library editions that I have seen date from the 1950s and 1960s.

It can be very difficult to date a library edition, since libraries have the habit of removing every single notation once the decision has been made to discard the book.  Sometimes, the library leaves some of the markings, and those markings have given me some dates.

The patterned binding Judy Bolton books that I have are mostly all from the middle part of the 1960s.  This is because the Judy Bolton series went out of print in 1967, and sales of the books declined rapidly in the last few years that the books were available.  Many books were remaindered by the publisher.  I speculate that many of the remaindered books were sold directly to binderies or to libraries and were immediately rebound as library editions.

Your website makes mention of the pattern seeming to go along with the title of the book.  I was not able to tell which ones you meant.  Are these books worth any more than the others? 

The patterned bindings are all worth about the same amount.  Some more attractive ones might be worth more, but it would be difficult to assign a value since most collectors of the Judy Bolton books prefer the regular editions.

Sometimes I fancy that a particular pattern might have been selected for a certain book, but that is purely speculation on my part.  If you go to my patterned binding page, I see the pattern on Clue in the Patchwork Quilt as looking similar to a quilt.  Or, for the Mystic Ball with the star inside a circle pattern (one of the books sent to you), I fancy the circle and star as seeming to indicate something "mystical."

I see library bindings as a work of art.  The person who was responsible for rebinding a book might have decided that a certain pattern fit the title rather than another pattern.

Are the library editions more scarce than other Judy Bolton editions?  Does the scarcity affect the value?  I have heard that library editions are not particularly desirable. 

The library editions are much scarcer than the regular editions.  In some cases, a particular library binding may be one-of-a-kind with only one example in existence.  A collector who sets out to acquire a certain Judy Bolton book in a patterned binding might have to look for a long time before finding one.

The scarcity of the library editions does not affect the value.  A small group of collectors are very interested in these bindings, but most of them want the books not to be library discards, which is highly unrealistic.  If a binding surfaces that is in excellent condition with no library markings, then the value would be higher.  For the average library edition that is a library discard, the value remains low.

I normally am able to acquire most any library bindings that come up for sale at less than $10.00 each due to lack of interest from other collectors.  While I wish that more collectors would find them interesting, I do benefit from the low prices.  I would like for others to become interested in the library bindings, and perhaps your article will cause a few more people to take a second look at library bindings.

Do you know who designed these patterned bindings?  Do the patterns somehow represent the time period or genre?

I do not know who designed these patterns.  There are a few companies that currently rebind books, and you might be able to find some information from one of them.  The current companies tend to incorporate a copy of the book's original artwork into the library binding.  The major companies do not use patterns, but some of the small, independent companies may still do so.

Are the library editions always found with call numbers on the spines?  Does that add or subtract from the value?

Library editions normally do have the call numbers on the spine, although sometimes the numbers are on a sticker that can be removed.  I have removed the stickers from the outside of many of my library editions, which does add to the aesthetic appeal of the books as seen on the shelf.  The presence or absence of the numbers has no effect on value, except in the instance of collectors who do not want library discards.  Since most collectors who desire the library editions know that the books will be library discards, the numbers have no impact on value.

A few scattered collectors are willing to pay high prices for library editions, because some of these people borrowed library editions from libraries as children and hope to build a set of the books just like what they remember from the library. To them, the books hold a special sentimental value.

How do the patterned binding values compare to the values of the other Judy Bolton library editions and the Judy Bolton regular editions?  I am aware of the great variance in value from regular editions, signed editions, first printings, etc., and that condition is also a factor. 

This is a complex question to answer, as you already know.

Regarding the regular editions, the Judy Bolton books from #1 up to around #20 tend to sell for low prices when the books are lacking the dust jackets.  For #21 and up, the values climb with the highest values for the books numbered around #30 and up.

The patterned bindings are worth around $5 to $10 each for most titles.  For around #25-31, the value of the patterned bindings is around $10-20 each.  For #32 and up, which are the scarcest titles in the series, the value of the patterned bindings is $25 to $50 each.

The regular editions with nice dust jackets sell for around twice as much as the patterned bindings.

Regarding other library bindings, the Cameo Library bindings are much harder to find than the patterned bindings.  Unfortunately, the illustration is rubbed off of the cover of many of them, which reduces the value.  If the books are in rough shape like most surviving copies, then the value is about the same as with the patterned bindings.

If the Cameo Library bindings are in excellent condition, then their value would probably be around twice as much as the patterned bindings.

I want to bring up a point that does not fit in with any of the questions.  Patterned library bindings are available for a wide variety of books, not just Judy Bolton, but for most all other series books, and all sorts of other books.  Think of any popular fiction title from the last 50 years.  Someone, somewhere, probably has a patterned binding of that book.

The patterned bindings are great to use as part of a decorating scheme.  For people who want to possess some of the books just for decorating, which title is contained by the binding is not relevant.  A great source for patterned bindings is library book sales.  They also sometimes show up in thrift stores, garage sales, and antique shops.

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