In the late 90s shortly after the first release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, a journalist called Nick Reynolds interviewed an author and single mother called Joanne Rowling.
After meeting her in a cafe, he skim-read the book and threw it away. Yes, he’s the man who threw away a first-edition copy of one of the most popular books in the world; one of around 200 hardback copies.
Nobody showed an interest in the book to begin with and J.K Rowling's pitches were rejected 12 times by publishers.
However, Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book and 500 hardback copies were published, 300 went into the British library system, and the other 200 were sent out to spread the word about the young wizard. There were also around 1000 paperback copies printed.
As you probably already know, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold millions of copies worldwide. It’s the third best-selling book of all time. And considering it was only published just over 20 years ago, that’s an impressive stat.
|Book||Author(s)||Original Language||1st Published||Approx Sales|
|The Lord of the Rings||J.R.R. Tolkien||English||1953||150 million|
|The Little Princess||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry||French||1943||140 million|
|Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone||J.K. Rowling||English||1997||140 million|
|The Master and Margarita||Mikhail Bulgakov||Russian||1967||100 million|
|Alice's Adventures in Wonderland||Lewis Carrol||English||1865||100 million|
|The Hobbit||J.R.R. Tolkien||English||1937||100 million|
|And Then There Were None||Agatha Christie||English||1939||100 million|
|Dream of the Red Chamber||Cao Xueqin||Chinese||1791||100 million|
Technically, all Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone books are worth something. However, that value will be determined by what print you have.
For example, if you have one of the first printed issues, you could sell it for a large sum. If you have a standard copy, you’ll be able to sell it for some cash.
Collectors are often captured by the rags-to-riches story and ‘just another kids’ book’ that was attached to the book at the time. Also, Rowling’s books sell so many copies now that they’re unlikely to be rare.
Book buying works on supply and demand - while there’s a demand (although it has dropped in the past few years) for first print Harry Potter books, first print supply is low. A large percentage of 120 million Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone books sold will be standard copies, so prices won’t be as high.
Firstly, we need to distinguish between ‘edition’ and ‘printing’. If a second edition of a book is released, it will have a change in the plot or extra information added (this is why textbooks have numerous editions).
Whereas a printing is where a publisher prints a certain amount of books to be sold, but the author needs more, which would be the second printing.
So, how do you tell if you have the first printing?
It’s estimated around 1000-1500 second printings were made within a week of the first printing. All second printings amended the above errors.
The first printed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Books are guaranteed to be worth something, the price will depend on the condition of the book. Copies in ‘fair’ condition could fetch up to £4000. Two books sold for £9000 pounds in 2007, and one sold for £43,750 in 2018.
We’ve been lucky to find a version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone book that was signed by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. It looks great next to our Harry Potter Pop! figure, but it will be going to auction at Mallams at the end of February, so watch this space!
If you've got a collection of Harry Potter books you don't want, it's a great time to have a little clear out and generate some cash in the process.
Here's how to do it:
1. Enter the ISBN number into our price generator or use the We Buy Books app to scan your books for faster checkout.
2. Get an instant valuation, accept your offer and pick your payment method.
3. Box your items, print the postage label and send with our designated courier for FREE.
4. Relax! Once we’ve received your items, we’ll check them and pay you the next day.