Something rare for the holidays?

So you’ve waited until the last minute to buy your gifts. Or you have one of those impossible people on your list. Consider giving a rare book. Some of them are expensive, but others are quite reasonably priced. They make a unique one-of-a-kind gift. Here are some bookstores to check out:

  1. The Mysterious Bookshop has a rare and collectible section of old mysteries. Here are some of the treasures currently available. A first edition of Agatha Christie’s, At Bertram’s Hotel, from 1965. $100. Alternatively, you could go for a first edition of Wilkie Collins’ The Queen of Hearts, from 1859. $12,500
  2. Abe Books. Scrolling through Abe Books is something of a hobby of mine. I’m always hoping to find a book plate from Charles Dickens’ library, but that’s another story. They have everything you could possibly want. One option: a first edition, signed copy of Mickey Spillane’s book, Day of the Guns. Published in 1964 $75.
  3. Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers This is the sort of place that, if you put “mystery” into the search bar, comes up with a mystery from the 1800s. But that’s not a bad thing. In my most recent search I found a broadside (newspaper) from the 1840s about a Bath Vicar who went into a trance and the mysterious things he saw. 175 pounds. (Surely someone could get a story out of that!)
  4. Buckingham Books They have a wide assortment of mysteries and thrillers, including an extensive collection of Sherlock Holmes related books. There you can get a first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles for $6,500. But you can also get a first edition of The Incredible Schlock Homes by Robert L. Fish for $375.

Hope this gives you some ideas! Have a joyous (and book-filled) season.

Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The MWA anthology, Crime Hits Home, in which she has a story, just won an Anthony Award. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Write to Pitch Conference.


  1. A great idea for certain people. Once I gave my mom a copy of her favorite childhood book, Dandelion Cottage, long out of print. And the story of that vicar is worth the lot.

  2. I’ve bought books from Abe books! A couple of William Borroughs’ books I couldn’t find anywhere else. Great list and great ideas!

  3. Some used bookstores sell College yearbooks. I’ve given friends yearbooks from their alma mater from decades back.

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