Gee whiz, crumbs, and all like that.
Back in 2005 I wrote about a children's book: The Highfield Mole. Originally self-published, it had then been taken up by a big-time agent and sold to Barry Cunningham of Chicken House.
Chicken House have not exactly bust a gut to rush it out, but it is soon to be published (July 2007, to be precise) under a new title: Tunnels. Back on their own web site, the joint authors have a lot more info about the book, and themselves.
So far so mundane, if a good boost for those who believe that self-publishing will lead to mainstream success. But there are those in this world who remember that Barry Cunningham was the only publisher in town who had any time for the original manuscript of Harry Potter. And they wonder if he can do it again. Some of these people are therefore looking around for copies of the original, self-published, version of Tunnels, i.e. The Highfield Mole. And they are prepared to buy same in the hope that one day, after (perhaps) seven successive Tunnels and the usual succession of Hollywood movies, the self-published ur-version of this classic will be extremely valuable.
And this is where it gets a bit gee-whizzy. Richard Davies of Abebooks tell me that, through Abebooks, dealers have recently sold copies of The Highfield Mole for £590 and £700 respectively.
You can currently (as I write) buy a signed copy, in mint condition, for £2,500. Plus, of course, £3.80 for shipping.
It may not entirely be a coincidence that one of the two authors of Tunnels has a background in high-level finance; and some of his friends doubtless have sufficiently big bonuses to take a punt on this kind of thing.
As I said last time: we shall see.
Crumbs, eh? Who said the secondhand-book business was dull?
P.S. An hour later: the £2,500 copy has been sold.