The publishing history of Harry Potter includes some incredibly neat books, some expensive (like a Philosopher’s Stone first edition/print) and some not so much. The Book Expo of America’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix happens to fall on the cheaper side (GREAT!) and also happens to be rare (WIN!)
Okay, so what IS the Book Expo of America (BEA). Well the BEA is considered to be the number one outlet for book and author events, and at this expo, publishers showcase upcoming and popular titles as well as allow authors to network within the publishing community. At the 2004 BEA, Scholastic featured a cool, little softcover of Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix (first edition originally published in 2003).
I have had a few people ask me why should collectors care about this seemingly common-looking Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix? Well, Scholastic only printed 5000 and were never sold to the public–as I mentioned earlier, they were only distributed to those at the 2004 Expo. Adding to the neatness of this book, the cover art of the BEA Order of the Phoenix features the artwork of GrandPré from the jacket of the Deluxe hardcover edition. Interestingly, the BEA edition doesn’t carry a title on the front cover or spine (like the trades do). In fact, the only wording is “Scholastic” in red on the bottom back cover.
While these BEA editions are rare and quite limited, they are not expensive. Usually copies in fine or near fine condition can be obtained on eBay or other bookselling sites for an average of $40.00. I’ve seen them sell higher (around $60.00) and much lower (I recently purchased a Near Fine copy off eBay for $20.00).
Now, why does this cool, rare book not sell high or even all that well (I’ve seen copies priced around $30.00 hang out on eBay for a few months before either being taken down by the seller or finally sold). I think there are several reasons for this, actually.
1) The book is wrongly labeled in sales ads as a proof copy of Order of the Phoenix. This BEA book was distributed in 2004, after the 2003 release of the first print trade, making this book absolutely not a proof. I can see the confusion (lack of title to the front cover or spine–like the Azkaban US Advanced Reader Copy), but it’s still not a proof copy–just a special edition.
2) It’s a later book. Early Harry Potter (usually considered books 1-3) sell well and fairly high in comparison to the later books. Due to popularity and high print numbers, collectors just assume that there’s not much to the later books; most Harry Potter collectors buy a first print US hardcover and maybe a US deluxe edition and call it a day.
3) It’s a softcover book. If a book isn’t a first print or a proof/advanced reading copy, many collectors do not tend to place much value on softcover books.
4) Ignorance. This book tends to fly under the radar for many Harry Potter collectors because it’s existence is not well-known, keeping down demand and price. Most don’t realise this book is quite limited in number.
5) There are usually a few up on eBay and other bookselling sites at many different price points (some high and some low) confusing buyers on value and actual rarity of the book. For example, if there are 10 copies priced from $20.00 to $85.00, buyers tend to think the higher-priced books are “too high” and stay away until other cheaper copies become available and do not realise the $20.00 copy was priced too low.
Below are photos of a beautiful BEA Order of the Phoenix.