First Edition Of "Where the Wild Things Are" Sells For $25,000

By: CBS Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CBS Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CBS News) Amid a surge of renewed interest in late author Maurice Sendak, a first edition of "Where the Wild Things Are" has sold for $25,000.

Online book retailer Abebooks.com confirmed to CBS News that the signed 1963 first edition of the classic children's book sold for the astonishing price in May. First editions of the book in excellent condition were previously estimated to sell for $10,000, according to the New York Daily News.

"It's common for the classic children's books -- 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,' 'Peter Pan,' 'The Hobbit' and so on - to sell for high prices because people want to own a piece of literary history, but this isn't always the case for children's picture books," spokesman Richard Davies told CBS News by email. "This is an exceptional price for a modern picture book and shows how well regarded Maurice Sendak was."

Davies told the Daily News that for "Where the Wild Things Are" in particular, it was rare for these books to go for so much because a lot of the 1960s editions were mass published. To date, 19 million copies of the Caldecott Medal-winning book have been sold.

However, since Sendak's death, AbeBooks.com has seen an increase in people searching for the author's works, which is common when a popular writer dies. They previously sold a 1964 signed copy of the book with a Wild Thing sketch by Sendak for $4,195. They also saw a lot of sales for "Brundibar," a 2003 book based on a Czech folklore that Sendak collaborated with Tony Kushner on, this past May.

"The copy that sold was special: It was in an excellent condition and children's books don't usually stand the test of time, a first edition and signed by the author," he said. "Signed first editions are the crème de la crème in the book collecting world. However, it was still an astounding selling prize because it's a modern book and a modern picture book at that."

AbeBooks previously sold a signed first edition in three volumes of "Das Kapital, Kritik der politischen Oekonomie" by Karl Marx for $51,739, their most expensive sale in 2011. They also sold an Arabic manuscript of "Al Wajaza Fi Sihhat Il Qawl Bi l Ijaza" for $45,000, the high-ticket item of 2010.

As for children's books, the sale of "Where The Wild Things Are" is certainly up there. It is the third most expensive children's book ever sold on the site, following sales of hard-to-find first editions of "The Hobbit" and "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." Davies said AbeBooks.com sold "The Hobbit" for $65,000 during their highest sale period, and "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" sold for $37,000 during the "absolute zenith" of the Harry Potter craze.

"This is by far the most expensive Sendak book sold through our site and a significant price for a children's picture book," Davies said.


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