May 22, 2022

Rare Books: AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Book Sales in 2012

Multiple lists are available including science, art, children’s, and maps.

From ABEBooks:

Our top 25 sales from 2012 illustrate the broad nature of rare books. There are modern first editions of iconic books, significant religious and theological works,and pioneering books of science and discovery. Our most expensive sale was a copy of Johann Bayer’s 1603 celestial atlas with 48 lavishly illustrated tables portraying the constellations identified by the Greeks and a 49th table showing 12 newly discovered constellations – it sold for $47,729.  This was the first star atlas to cover the entire celestial sphere, and introduced a new system of star designation known as the ‘Bayer Designation.’

The second spot is occupied by one of the most successful media franchises in history, James Bond.  When Ian Fleming first put pen to paper and wrote Casino Royale in 1953, there was no way he could have imagined the enduring popularity of 007.  This inscribed first edition of Casino Royale sold for more than $46,000 and would grace any rare book collection.

In third place is Franz Kafka’s novel Die Verwandlung (aka The Metamorphosis), which sold for $30,000.The original German edition is highly sought after because of Kafka’s ability to deliver unexpected impact at the end of his sentences. This effect has been difficult for English translators to replicate so the original German script is essential for Kafka collectors.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.