Courtesy Christie's Images.
Courtesy Christie's Images.

Investing in rare books



It is the stories behind the stories that really appeal. The tantalising inscriptions, long-forgotten messages and illegible scribbles. It’s the four lines of verse penned by the author in the front of a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: “When in this book you take a look / My little sweethearth [sic] Beth / Just think I write the whole of it / And yet am yours ‘til death”. Or the message from Ian Fleming to his close friend and confidant, Robert Harling, in the opening pages of a first edition of Live and Let Die: “To Robert These fragrant pages. From the author. 1954”.

”Books are a physical touchstone to the past,” says Margaret Ford, the international head of the books department at Christie’s. “And something that makes it personal, like a signed copy - that association is extremely special. Just knowing that book was actually in that author’s hands at some point in time, or knowing that I’m holding something that Churchill once held. Or owning an early edition of Virgil from 1470 - something that is more than 500 years old - and being able to hold that in your hands.”

If the age of the book is, as the naysayers would suggest, well and truly over, then it’s certainly not showing at the upper echelons of the rare book market. In June, a newly discovered copy of the second edition of Virgil’s Opera was sold for more than £1 million (Dh5.7 million). At the same Christie’s auction, a set of two books and autographed letters by Charles Dickens sold for nearly £50,000 (Dh286,000), 10 times the amount they were expected to fetch. When the aforementioned copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz went up for auction in 2002, it was expected to sell for between US$60,000 and $80,000; it fetched a handsome $152,500 (Dh560,000). A year earlier, a copy of T E Lawrence’s The Seven Pillars of Wisdom was sold for almost $1 million (Dh3.6 million) at auction - ironic, perhaps, given that at the time of publishing, “Lawrence of Arabia” refused to make any money from the book and was, as a result, left saddled with debt.

This is a market driven by passion, nostalgia and, ultimately, the love of a good story - and emphasis is increasingly being placed on books that are in some way “special”. In essence, this means items that are signed, inscribed or hold some kind of remarkable association. In the case of those surprisingly successful Dickens novels, they were addressed to the American poet and journalist, William Cullen Bryant, and offer a snapshot of the mutual admiration shared by these two like-minded men on either side of the Atlantic.

But in a market that is essentially driven by emotion, special can mean many things. People may value a book because it is something they read as a child and is a source of happy memories, or is by an author they admire and relate to, or of a genre that brings them joy.

Saying that, in the wake of the global economic slowdown, there has also been a “flight to safety”, says Ford, leading to a heightened interest in the classics. Household names by recognised authors, like The Great Gatsby and The Wizard of Oz, are proving particularly popular. The musings of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy will never, it seems, go out of style.

Condition has always been key in the rare books business, but is now more important than ever. “Many things can increase a book’s value. Desirability and scarcity - or supply and demand if you are an economist - are the main two factors. Collectors usually crave the earliest edition of a book of significance, so true first editions are very important. Signed copies are also of value. However, many other factors can come into play, such as the book’s condition. Condition is vital in the used and rare book business,” says Richard Davies from Abe Books, an online marketplace populated by booksellers from around the world who sell some of the rarest and most collectable books in the history of literature.

This includes everything from handwritten manuscripts created before the invention of the printing press to first editions and signed copies from literary legends such as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Joyce, Twain, Wells, Woolf and Kipling.

One of the highest-selling books to ever feature on the site was a copy of The Hobbit from 1937, which sold for $65,000 (Dh238,740). “Only 1,500 copies were printed and it’s a book of huge social significance and practically created the fantasy genre,” Davies explains.

While fiction is the dominant genre when it comes to rare books, there are a number of niche areas within the industry that present opportunity. For example, Dr Jörn Günther Rare Books specialises in significant books dating from the 11th to the 16th centuries, which range in price from €60,000 to €10,000,000. Illuminated medieval manuscripts are the company’s particular specialism and it currently has a copy of the Douze Caesars dating from 1515 to 1520 on sale for €3,200,000 (Dh15.47m), along with a Compendium of King Juan II of Castile and Leon dating from 1425 and costing €2,200,000 (Dh10.64m).

Middle Eastern manuscripts are also holding their value well. “The Middle East is an interesting market, particularly when it comes to manuscripts, but also books related to the region, like The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. We have good interest from this part of the world, not only in terms of the value of Middle Eastern books and manuscripts, but also the number of buyers from the region,” says Ford.

Regardless of where you are in the world, when it comes to rare books, condition and completion may be the magic words, but buying a book should always be a process driven by emotion - regardless of its price. “The thing that should really inform your decision is you should love it and enjoy it,” Ford concludes. “Listen to your own voice.”

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

How to help

Call the hotline on 0502955999 or send "thenational" to the following numbers:

2289 - Dh10

2252 - Dh50

6025 - Dh20

6027 - Dh100

6026 - Dh200

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

INDIA SQUADS

India squad for third Test against Sri Lanka
Virat Kohli (capt), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar

India squad for ODI series against Sri Lanka
Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul

The biog

Siblings: five brothers and one sister

Education: Bachelors in Political Science at the University of Minnesota

Interests: Swimming, tennis and the gym

Favourite place: UAE

Favourite packet food on the trip: pasta primavera

What he did to pass the time during the trip: listen to audio books

What you as a drone operator need to know

A permit and licence is required to fly a drone legally in Dubai.

Sanad Academy is the United Arab Emirate’s first RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) training and certification specialists endorsed by the Dubai Civil Aviation authority.

It is responsible to train, test and certify drone operators and drones in UAE with DCAA Endorsement.

“We are teaching people how to fly in accordance with the laws of the UAE,” said Ahmad Al Hamadi, a trainer at Sanad.

“We can show how the aircraft work and how they are operated. They are relatively easy to use, but they need responsible pilots.

“Pilots have to be mature. They are given a map of where they can and can’t fly in the UAE and we make these points clear in the lectures we give.

“You cannot fly a drone without registration under any circumstances.”

Larger drones are harder to fly, and have a different response to location control. There are no brakes in the air, so the larger drones have more power.

The Sanad Academy has a designated area to fly off the Al Ain Road near Skydive Dubai to show pilots how to fly responsibly.

“As UAS technology becomes mainstream, it is important to build wider awareness on how to integrate it into commerce and our personal lives,” said Major General Abdulla Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief, Dubai Police.

“Operators must undergo proper training and certification to ensure safety and compliance.

“Dubai’s airspace will undoubtedly experience increased traffic as UAS innovations become commonplace, the Forum allows commercial users to learn of best practice applications to implement UAS safely and legally, while benefitting a whole range of industries.”

Company profile

Company name: amana
Started: 2010
Founders: Karim Farra and Ziad Aboujeb
Based: UAE
Regulator: DFSA
Sector: Financial services
Current number of staff: 85
Investment stage: Self-funded

Abu Dhabi’s Racecard

5pm: Al Bithnah – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,200m
5.30pm: Al Khari – Hanidcap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
6pm: Al Qor – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,600m
7pm: Al Badiyah – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
7.30pm: Al Hayl – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m

The biog

Age: 59

From: Giza Governorate, Egypt

Family: A daughter, two sons and wife

Favourite tree: Ghaf

Runner up favourite tree: Frankincense 

Favourite place on Sir Bani Yas Island: “I love all of Sir Bani Yas. Every spot of Sir Bani Yas, I love it.”

Libya's Gold

UN Panel of Experts found regime secretly sold a fifth of the country's gold reserves.

The panel’s 2017 report followed a trail to West Africa where large sums of cash and gold were hidden by Abdullah Al Senussi, Qaddafi’s former intelligence chief, in 2011.

Cases filled with cash that was said to amount to $560m in 100 dollar notes, that was kept by a group of Libyans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

A second stash was said to have been held in Accra, Ghana, inside boxes at the local offices of an international human rights organisation based in France.

Pad Man

Dir: R Balki

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte

Three-and-a-half stars

The specs

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

Engine 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8

Power 625hp at 6,000rpm

Torque 750Nm from 1,800-5,800rpm

Gearbox Eight-speed paddleshift auto

Acceleration 0-100kph in 3.2 sec

Top speed 305kph

Fuel economy, combined 10.6L / 100km

Price from Dh700,000 (estimate)

On sale Jan/Feb 2020
 

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

Day 3, Dubai Test: At a glance

Moment of the day Lahiru Gamage, the Sri Lanka pace bowler, has had to play a lot of cricket to earn a shot at the top level. The 29-year-old debutant first played a first-class game 11 years ago. His first Test wicket was one to savour, bowling Pakistan opener Shan Masood through the gate. It set the rot in motion for Pakistan’s batting.

Stat of the day – 73 Haris Sohail took 73 balls to hit a boundary. Which is a peculiar quirk, given the aggressive intent he showed from the off. Pakistan’s batsmen were implored to attack Rangana Herath after their implosion against his left-arm spin in Abu Dhabi. Haris did his best to oblige, smacking the second ball he faced for a huge straight six.

The verdict One year ago, when Pakistan played their first day-night Test at this ground, they held a 222-run lead over West Indies on first innings. The away side still pushed their hosts relatively close on the final night. With the opposite almost exactly the case this time around, Pakistan still have to hope they can salvage a win from somewhere.

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi, Oneworld

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

THE SWIMMERS

Director: Sally El-Hosaini

Stars: Nathalie Issa, Manal Issa, Ahmed Malek and Ali Suliman 

Rating: 4/5

ARM IPO DETAILS

Share price: Undisclosed

Target raise: $8 billion to $10 billion

Projected valuation: $60 billion to $70 billion (Source: Bloomberg)

Lead underwriters: Barclays, Goldman Sachs Group, JPMorgan Chase and Mizuho Financial Group

If you go...

Etihad Airways flies from Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur, from about Dh3,600. Air Asia currently flies from Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu, with Berjaya Hotels & Resorts planning to launch direct chartered flights to Redang Island in the near future. Rooms at The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort start from 680RM (Dh597).

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Sideup
Started: 2019
Founder: Waleed Rashed
Based: Cairo, Egypt
Industry: technology, e-commerce
Funds raised so far: $1.2 million
Investors: Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and Saudi angel investor Faisal Al Abdulsalam

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

Duminy's Test career in numbers

Tests 46; Runs 2,103; Best 166; Average 32.85; 100s 6; 50s 8; Wickets 42; Best 4-47

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Educatly
Started: 2020
Based: UAE
Founders: Mohmmed El Sonbaty, Joan Manuel and Abdelrahman Ayman
Industry: Education technology
Funding size: $2 million
Investors: Enterprise Ireland, Egypt venture, Plus VC, HBAN, Falak Startups

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

The Bio

Favourite place in UAE: Al Rams pearling village

What one book should everyone read: Any book written before electricity was invented. When a writer willingly worked under candlelight, you know he/she had a real passion for their craft

Your favourite type of pearl: All of them. No pearl looks the same and each carries its own unique characteristics, like humans

Best time to swim in the sea: When there is enough light to see beneath the surface

Armies of Sand

By Kenneth Pollack (Oxford University Press)
 

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

England squad

Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, James Bracey, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Ben Foakes, Lewis Gregory, Keaton Jennings, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Amar Virdi, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

Company Profile

Name: JustClean

Based: Kuwait with offices in other GCC countries

Launch year: 2016

Number of employees: 130

Sector: online laundry service

Funding: $12.9m from Kuwait-based Faith Capital Holding

Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya

Directors: Amit Joshi and Aradhana Sah

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Dharmendra, Dimple Kapadia, Rakesh Bedi

Rating: 4/5

Changing visa rules

For decades the UAE has granted two and three year visas to foreign workers, tied to their current employer. Now that's changing.

Last year, the UAE cabinet also approved providing 10-year visas to foreigners with investments in the UAE of at least Dh10 million, if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 per cent of the total. Investors can bring their spouses and children into the country.

It also approved five-year residency to owners of UAE real estate worth at least 5 million dirhams.

The government also said that leading academics, medical doctors, scientists, engineers and star students would be eligible for similar long-term visas, without the need for financial investments in the country.

The first batch - 20 finalists for the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Distinction.- were awarded in January and more are expected to follow.

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Power: 410hp
Torque: 495Nm
Price: starts from Dh495,000 (Dh610,000 for the F-Sport launch edition tested)
On sale: now

Company profile

Company name: Tuhoon
Year started: June 2021
Co-founders: Fares Ghandour, Dr Naif Almutawa, Aymane Sennoussi
Based: Riyadh
Sector: health care
Size: 15 employees, $250,000 in revenue
Investment stage: seed
Investors: Wamda Capital, Nuwa Capital, angel investors

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

A Little to the Left

Developer: Max Inferno
Consoles: PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch
Rating: 4/5

Company Profile

Name: Raha
Started: 2022
Based: Kuwait/Saudi
Industry: Tech Logistics
Funding: $14 million
Investors: Soor Capital, eWTP Arabia Capital, Aujan Enterprises, Nox Management, Cedar Mundi Ventures
Number of employees: 166

Tips from the expert

Dobromir Radichkov, chief data officer at dubizzle and Bayut, offers a few tips for UAE residents looking to earn some cash from pre-loved items.

  1. Sellers should focus on providing high-quality used goods at attractive prices to buyers.
  2. It’s important to use clear and appealing photos, with catchy titles and detailed descriptions to capture the attention of prospective buyers.
  3. Try to advertise a realistic price to attract buyers looking for good deals, especially in the current environment where consumers are significantly more price-sensitive.
  4. Be creative and look around your home for valuable items that you no longer need but might be useful to others.
COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Carzaty, now Kavak
Based: Dubai
Launch year: Carzaty launched in 2018, Kavak in the GCC launched in 2022
Number of employees: 140
Sector: Automotive
Funding: Carzaty raised $6m in equity and $4m in debt; Kavak plans $130m investment in the GCC

The 100 Best Novels in Translation
Boyd Tonkin, Galileo Press

FIVE TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE UAE BANKING

• The digitisation of financial services will continue

• Managing and using data effectively will become a competitive advantage

• Digitisation will require continued adjustment of operating models

• Banks will expand their role in the customer life through ecosystems

• The structure of the sector will change

The National in Davos

We are bringing you the inside story from the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, a gathering of hundreds of world leaders, top executives and billionaires.

Jawab Iteiqal
Director: Mohamed Sammy
Starring: Mohamed Ramadan, Ayad Nasaar, Mohamed Adel and Sabry Fawaz
2 stars


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