Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0002368, Tue, 23 Sep 1997 10:16:17 -0700

VN books: sources & prices
EDITORIAL NOTE. Michael Juliar <mjuliar@attmail.com>,
author of the posting below, is the author/compiler of *Vladimir
Nabokov: A Descriptive Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1986*, which along
with its updates in *The Nabokovian* is the
standard scholarly VN bibliography. He is also a well-known collector.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

I second mr. howerton's remarks about www.abebooks.com being a good source
for nabokov books (or anyone else's). the price's tend to be (though are
not always) cheaper than through dealer catalogues. and it is much easier
than sniffing and sneezing through dusty shelves. another good source is

regarding prices for vn books: certainly since nabokov's death in 1977,
prices for his first editions and russian editions have been at the high
end of the "modern firsts" spectrum. realize that in the business, the
condition of a volume can control its value by hundreds of percents.
a 1955 paris "lolita" in pristine condition could fetch some high-end
dealers more than $5000 retail. a dirty, dog-eared, torn one could go
for only a few hundred, if that much.

it is fascinating to follow the prices of modern authors, especially comparing
their standings in three main communities: academic, popular, and collecting.
take philip roth for instance. i don't know his academic standing these days,
but his new books appear to sell well (and books about him too). i myself admire
him above most american writers today. but collectors don't seem to. prices for
his books are, i think, phenominally low. maybe when he dies...buy now and make
a killing later ;)

books signed by nabokov are very, very expensive. he appeared to frown upon those
who tried to get close to authors through their signatures instead of reading
their texts. he did not "do" public author signings. most vn signed volumes i've seen
are inscribed to friends and colleagues and people connected to publishing his
books. i think he felt that a book simply signed was impersonal and ridiculous and
an inscribed volume was out of the question unless he had something truly personal
to convey.

i am aware, though, of at least one public signing, after a lecture about 45
years ago before a group of teachers of slavic languages and literature. some attendees
brought copies of "conclusive evidence" with them and afterwords asked him to sign.
is anyone aware of any other "public" signings by vn? and have you seen any such

that $15,000 signed copy mentioned is not out of line since it was inscribed to vera
and is the first such one i've heard of to hit the market.

no, nabokov is at the top of the trade and has been there for at least 20 years.

- michael juliar