Matthew Haley, the head of the books, manuscripts and photographs department at the auction house Bonhams in London said that the internet has actually made more collectors more aware when a rare book comes onto the market.
As he said, “More people can find it and there is only one of them around,” he told an audience at the Hay Festival. He continued by saying, “We see that the mid-rank is really the struggling area of the market, which in our terms would be books between 100 pounds and a thousand.”
The overall value for rare books has held at about $600 million a year, he said. Second-hand bookshops, he said, are unfortunately closing at a tremendous rate. As he said, “I fear that we are going to see the end of the serendipity of browsing through a bookshop and finding a book you didn’t know you wanted.”
While some have argued that digital books would outsell printed books soon, probably by 2015, in Britain, he believes that this has not been the case. As Haley said, “There is no substitute for handling a book.”