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Book collecting

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yeah ok so i've kinda gotten into book collecting. i've only paid over a thousand for three books: ~$5,000 for a signed kinda beaten up first edition of Finnegan's Wake, ~$3,000 for a signed like new ARC of Infinite Jest (later sold for $5,000), and $3,000 for an unsigned first edition of Gravity's Rainbow (later sold for $4,500). I have no intentions of selling the Wake.

(Probably) not happening

These don't generally sell for less than $25,000, if they exist. I cannot at this time justify spending $25K on a book. Well, maybe a signed first Ulysses.

  • Signed first Ulysses
  • Signed Feynman Lectures on Physics
  • Signed Discipline of Programming (Dijkstra) (do any exist?)

Dream acquisitions

These run $5K–$25K if you want them in any decent shape.

  • Signed first Blood Meridian
  • Signed first Dubliners
  • Signed first Gravity's Rainbow
  • First Moby-Dick
  • Signed Gone with the Wind
  • Signed first Waiting for Godot
  • Signed T. S. Eliot (ideally some printing of The Waste Land)
  • Signed first Ariel (Plath)


  • Signed first Infinite Jest
  • Signed Schrodinger's Cat trilogy
  • Signed first The Power of One
  • Signed first American Prometheus
  • Signed first A Clockwork Orange
  • Signed first The Making of the Atomic Bomb
  • Signed first The Soul of a New Machine
  • Signed first The Emperor of All Maladies
  • Signed first Watership Down
  • Signed first Hitch-22 or maybe Arguably (christopher hitchens)

Got 'em

All are hardback unless otherwise indicated. "First" indicates either the first American edition, or the country in which the book originally appeared.

Unsigned rarities

I have several dozen computer science and math books which are rare, and run several hundred dollars, but are unspectacular (beyond their low print runs) and not in any kind of demand. I've not bothered listing them.

  • First McCarthy (Blood Meridian)
  • First Wilson (Schrödinger's Cat trilogy, three paperbacks, no hardback first exists)
  • First Shulgin (The Shulgin Index, vol. 1: Psychedelic Phenethylamines and Related Compounds)


Everything but the Penrose and Aaronson were acquired signed. I got Sir Roger to sign my Road to Reality when he gave a talk at Georgia Tech. My exwife got Scott to sign my Quantum Computing Since Democritus when she was at UT Austin.

  • Signed first Burroughs (Naked Lunch)
  • Signed first Burroughs (The Last Words of Dutch Schultz)
  • Signed first Ginsberg (Collected Poems)
  • Signed first Gass (The Tunnel)
  • Signed first Flynn (Gone Girl)
  • Signed first Coupland (Microserfs)
  • Signed first Rushdie (The Satanic Verses)
  • Signed first Leyner (My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, paperback)
  • Signed first Gibson (Burning Chrome)
  • Signed first Joyce (Finnegan's Wake)
  • Signed first Penrose (The Road to Reality)
  • Signed first Ginsberg (Howl and Other Poems, City Lights paperback, no hardback first exists)
  • Signed first Ferlinghetti (Coney Island of the Mind and Other Poems, City Lights paperback, no hardback first exists)
  • Signed Wilson (Illuminatus! trilogy, omnibus paperback edition, no hardback exists)
  • Signed Aaronson (Quantum Computing Since Democritus, paperback, no hardback exists)
  • Signed Schrödinger (lecture notes, not a book)

Signed at publisher

These are special editions, signed en bloc at the publisher, usually in elaborate hardcover presentation and including a statement of authenticity. Easton Press and Franklin Press are major purveyors. Suntup and the Folio Society print similar editions, but do not generally have them signed. Anyone calling these "first editions" is a charlatan, but that doesn't mean you won't see it done. With that said, they're exquisite books.

  • Signed Rovelli (Helgoland) (Easton Press)
  • Signed Wilzcek (Ten Keys to Reality) (Easton Press)
  • Signed Dyson (Disturbing the Universe) (Easton Press)
  • Signed Gibson (Neuromancer) (Easton Press)
  • Signed Ellison (Invisible Man) (Franklin Press)
  • Signed Styron (Sophie's Choice) (Franklin Press)
  • Signed first McCarthy (The Passenger+Stella Maris, both signed in boxset)