Picture books may bring cash
Old children’s picture books collecting dust and cobwebs in storage may be worth a small fortune. Classic favorites like "Where the Wild Things Are" can be sold for more than $10,000.
Many picture books published in the last decade sell for hundreds of dollars. A first edition of "Jumanji" or "Polar Express" can reach over $1,000. It is an unknown treasure to most people — a secret, which Stan and Linda Zielinski are attempting to reveal.
After more than 10 years of arduous work, the Zielinski’s wrote and published the "Children’s Picturebook Price Guide," the first of its kind. With the first edition’s success, the Zielinski’s hope to publish this book annually.
Comic books and baseball cards have books like these, Stan said, but children’s picture books do not. "Today’s picture-book collecting market is similar to where the comic book market was in 1970, when Bob Overstreet published his first price guide," Stan said.
The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide became the definitive guide to the hobby, helping institutionalize values.
A similar occurrence happened with baseball cards in 1979. Once considered a child’s plaything, hardly anyone would now sell their Micky Mantle or Willie Mays cards for pennies. In the case of both comic books and baseball cards, a large collector base existed at the time of the respective price guide’s publication. However, the general population was not aware of the value for either.
Stan observes books sold on eBay for nothing and he believes people should be educated in what they are selling.
"Today people will sell valuable first-edition picture books on eBay or to used book stores for a fraction of their worth. It’s easy money for astute book collectors and booksellers to purchase the books for a pittance then sell them for their true worth. It’s scary for people to buy or sell these books to a dealer. Our book makes it easy to understand what they are worth," he said.
The Zielinski’s may not have completed their book if they didn’t move to Park City two years ago. They lived in California and Stan was climbing the corporate ladder at Dreyers Ice Cream.
"It took me leaving the corporate life to finish the book. Writing the book took a lot of time, neither of us could devote the time before to finish it."
Stan was tired of the corporate life when he and Linda decided to search for a lifestyle and a place that fit their interests. After Stan looked at Park City, he told Linda, "We’re going to live there." Linda wasn’t as certain, but after exploring other cities, Park City was the right fit.
They came here and started their own publishing company, Flying Moose Books, and put all there energy into the price guide.
The book is extensive. It includes values for nearly 23,000 books, covering 700 childrens’ book illustrators dating from 1929-2006. It includes a chapter, listing the 20 most valuable books by decade from the 1930s to the 1990s.
In addition to being a price guide, the book provides a brief history of the development of the children’s picture book. It explains why today is the golden era of picture books, with more quality illustrators, writers and picture books than anytime in the past.
"Our audience is the lay person," Linda said. "We aren’t selling this to the highly sophisticated book dealer. Our audience will be the general public."
The work was difficult, and the Zielinski’s believe their work will continue to improve.
"It’s so tedious, but no matter how hard we work, there are still going to be mistakes, but we continue to move forward," Stan said.
The Zielinski’s will have book signings and appraisal events this month. A $5 donation will be given to the Park City Education Foundation from all purchases made through their Web site, http://www.flyingmoosebooks.com. They will have a book signing event Friday, June 9, at the South Towne Exposition Center in Salt Lake, 9575 South State Street, between 2 and 4 p.m. On Saturday, June 17, they will host an appraisal event at the Spotted Frog Bookstore in Park City. The event will be free and they invite people to bring their picture-books between 4 and 6 p.m.
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Daniel Thurston is Park City Library’s new Spanish services librarian.