I was born a collector. You either are or you're not.
One of the things I collect personally is books.
Due to that interest, I carefully monitor that particular segment of the COLLECTOR'S MARKET utilizing the same mindset with which I monitored St. Gaudens twenties and Indian head cents for 25 years and now the HIGHWAYMEN ART MARKET for the last 16.
Since I read "The Stand" and "The Shining" back in the 70's, I have collected the works of Stephen King, like millions of other reader/collectors have. In addition to buying his new fresh books the day they are released, I have invested in several limited specialty issues, and due to their "additional value" as supply/demand collectibles, and I keep a close eye on that market.
Which led me to the following copy paste from The Stephen King Collector site.
I submit it to you, gentle reader (I stole that from King), due to the unmistakable similarities to our highwaymen market.
For this exercise, replace in your mind, if you will, book with art and bookseller with art dealer.
And keep eBay as eBay. Every word he wrote rings true.
As most of you long time collectors know, the SK market hit a peak (price wise) a few years ago. Recently the recession took its toll with more collectors selling off and buyers acquiring less, causing a glut in the market and prices to fall even further then they were. From what I've been seeing, more people have been buying in the last six months or so, which is good. But prices are still lower overall then (sic) back in '02-'03. At the end of the day, collecting anything is discretionary & very dependent on disposable income. Whether it's Art, Coins, or SK books - during an economic downturn collecting takes a hit and in better times surges again. I'm hopeful that we'll look back on this recession as a low point in SK valuations and as the economy picks up so will SK pricing.
The economy has been the most recent game changer, but over the last decade the internet has been the driving change behind the way people collect. And arguably the biggest internet related change has been the buying/selling of books on eBay. Ebay has narrowed the profit margins and forced brick and mortar used bookstores to adapt or close their doors. Betts Books is a perfect example. As a physical location the price difference between Betts and Ebay were too great and business declined to the point where it was not viable. Now as an internet only store the prices have come down substantially and I the business is doing well.
One key thing to point out here is that a bookstore's prices SHOULD be higher than eBay prices. Buying from a trusted bookstore vs. eBay are two very different things. When buying from eBay you have to take your own time out to dig thru listings waiting for the book you want to pop up, then keep on top of the auction status and end times. (I think most of us have played the game where we're up at 5:00am bleary eyed and waiting to put that last bid in to get our book...or we're cursing because we forgot an auction was closing at 2am and missed bidding :) You also have to check for yourself that the item is represented accurately, hope that the seller packages your items safely and in some cases hope that seller with a zero feedback rating or 92% positive feedback rating isn't intentionally trying to screw you over. Essentially you're getting a discounted price because you're taking some of the risk and taking some of your time for the item.
*nb( What he fails to mention is the forged signatures which compare to fake highwaymen)
When you buy from a trusted bookstore you can see if the book you want is in stock and get it right away, or even put a request in for the bookseller to keep an eye out for you on a hard to find book. You know the description will be accurate, the book shipped quickly and safely and if there is a problem during shipping or some other part of the transaction the bookstore will take care of you. Essentially the bookstore has done a good chunk of the work for you and reduced the risk of a bad transaction.
There are exceptions of course, but in general when you look at a books price range you can think of the sold eBay prices at the lower end of the range and bookstore prices at the higher end of the range. Sometimes the two prices are similar sometimes they're further apart, it all depends on the book in question, how often it's available for purchase, and a few other conditions.
True for both markets, many, many other conditions, moreso with art than with books..