There have been occasional posts about prices of backgammon books.
One person paid $150 for Magriel and THEN wrote in to see if s/he got
a good deal. I think the question should have been asked BEFORE buying!
And my answer is "no".
I can think of two reasons to buy backgammon books--1) to read and
absorb, and 2) to collect. I would guess that if you are primarily
interested in #1 then you can limit yourself to less than 10% of all titles
on the subject. If #2, then presumably you want one of every issue.
Most backgammon books are out-of-print. It's not that tough to get
prices for the in-print books. Out-of-print issues are another story.
Like antiques, the prices can vary WILDLY. For example, Magriel. The
softcover is now in print at $45. At the recent Pittsburgh tournament,
the boutique (owned by Carol Cole but this time being managed by Maurice
Barie) had for sale two used hardbacks with dustjackets. One which was
autographed (but also addressed to a particular person) had a $60 price
tag. The other was about the same price, I think. (BTW, the first few
chapters of the classic were also issued separately entitled "Introduction
to Backgammon". Unless you are a collector, you might as well buy the
I've seen some listings of used BG books with what I considered
OUTRAGEOUS prices. But, nobody is holding a gun to your head. You are
free to pay a steep price. I'd rather look for bargains. (Again, I'm
talking mostly about the out-of-print, collectable stuff.) How do you
get bargains and/or how do you keep from getting fleeced?
This newsgroup is a good place to START. Ask if anyone has a book
you're looking for and/or what it's worth. Write Carol Cole
email@example.com and see if she has the book in stock. (She deals with
out-of-print used BG books as well as virtually ALL in-print BG books. Her
prices tend to be up-to-date 'market value' prices.) She may be able to
point you to other dealers if she doesn't happen to have what you are
I'm sure there are lots of BG bargains at used book stores around
the US (and probably in other parts of the world as well). Obviously
the more out-of-the-way (that is, away from the large metropolitan BG
centers) the more likely you are to get the bargains. I've picked up
quite a few "steals" myself that way, as have other people I know.
BEWARE OF REPRINTS! For example, during the 70's BG craze a book
by Longacre originally published in the 20's was reprinted and sold for
$10-$12 if I remember correctly. Tons of them were reissued. AN ORIGINAL
edition is surely worth a pretty penny, but these reprints are not. I'd
say paying more than a few bucks would be a mistake, and then only if
you are a collector. It's an interesting read from an antiquarian
viewpoint, but you're not likely to find any intellectual nuggets...
Keep in mind that hardcovers carry a premium over softcovers. Many
of the 70's editions came in both. Often the hardcovers are quite rare
while the softcovers are commonplace. The "New York Times Book of BG by"
Jim and Mary Zita Jacoby (son and wife of Ozzie, BTW) is fairly common
(and printed on poor quality paper) in softcover but rather rare in
hardcover, for example.
Some used book stores have a "rare book search service" which is
a network of used book dealers. Problem is, when someone knows you
want something, the price goes up. (I'm sure this is not true of ALL
dealers, but don't be naive!) Still, if you are desparate for a particular
title, this route is likely to produce books, but probably not bargains.
Obviously if you "JUST HAVE TO HAVE THAT BOOK, NOW!" then you are going
to pay the price. If you are patient and enjoy shopping around (for
the thrill of a bargain), then you'll get the good buys. It's up to you.
c_ray on FIBS