Collecting the Books of James Bond

I welcome you, dear reader, to Forever’s 005: For Your Collection Only, a compendium of tips, tricks and fun history from 007`s world. We`re going in-depth on the collecting questions we`ve had to field over years and years–come along for the ride each time–I guarantee you will learn something new if you are an old hand!

This first installment deals with books, a subject big enough to warrant much more explanation than is given here. We will return to books soon again soon for the Corner, I guarantee it. Meanwhile, whether you collect Mr. Bond`s books, posters, toys, autographs, clothing or whatever, you will find plenty of hot tips within each section each time to add your collecting knowledge. The staff of Forever is looking for your Q and A also for forthcoming work. We will be drawing on more than one hundred years` in total collecting experience from the 007Forever staff and help from experts around the world in their collecting fields…watch this space also for our forthcoming stories on super collectors from around the world! On to the Books: Part I!

Why collect the Bonds as books besides their fantastic investment value? The Bonds tend to have among the best jacket art and spine designs anywhere! They will look great on your shelf next to your star autographs and Corgi toys.

The earlier books have increased value dramatically for a number of reasons, certainly sentimentality for baby boomers, their scarcity and lovely cover art–the entire publishing industry moved long ago from artist rendered, hand illustrated covers to cheap cut and paste art and computer graphics imagery. Today, a quality artist can earn $2,000 – $3,000 for painting a single jacket cover! Again, early books have snob appeal today, and Bond is on the cutting edge of the modern firsts that have increased in value thirty-fold in recent years.

To sound hip in Bondly book collecting is to have you go to your local book dealer, walk up to his counter, and ask if he has any Bondiana (pronounced Bond-ee-anna, like “Indiana” Jones) for sale. The word Bondiana doesn`t just sound cool, it tips the seller that you are seeking Bond items not limited to Mr. Fleming`s books but Gardner novels, magazine articles on Bond, whatever. We collectors are “Bondians” who collect Bondiana. Ian Fleming fans can try the mouthful, “Flemingiana,” for a double-point bonus from Collectors` Corner. With the exploding market, I have seen tight-lipped dealers who said ten years ago, “Collect Ian Fleming pulp! Perish the thought!” respond lately with, “James Bond? I was so stupid years ago, I could have had a copy of…”.

Collecting James Bond in the literary form has been an enduring and satisfying hobby for nearly fifty years, and the Fleming titles are the most popular modern firsts collected today. The first rule of Bond book collecting is–we can ignore the first rule of typical Bond collecting! For 007`s items, often, but not always, the “rule of 60” applies—that is, until recently, the rule of 60 said that for toys, posters, books, etc., an item had to date from the early 1960s or before to carry heavy value. Not so with rare books!

“All Mod Bonds”

A prime example of a valuable modern Bond would be John Gardner`s Cold in its British first edition, 1996 from Hodder & Staughton (who purchased the publishing house and selections of Jonathan Cape). Cold, or Cold Fall, as it is titled in the US, is fetching an astounding $700 right now (quite a markup from its 17-pound cover price!) and illustrates three facets that make Bond bookies go wild:

1) The first Cold is British and so it is the very first appearance of this title in book form
2) The printing run was limited to 900 copies, so it is a scarce title
3) The dustjacket is hot stuff!

Now, we Anglophiles love the British Bonds with their usually gorgeous dustjackets, for the jacket is king in collecting 007. Titles without a jacket plunge in price, which is logical, if you sell me a “naked” book title I can hunt down the jacket—but who has empty dustjackets to sell me to clothe my book? A first American valued at $350 might have trouble getting a bid of $10 at auction without a jacket cover.

Hint: Looking for British titles? Find friends across the pond searching for titles from the States–we have trouble finding British Pans and Capes in US stores and our friends in Europe have trouble collecting American firsts at their shops.

Have you ever realized that Bond book collectors have a wider playing field that blows away the exploding field of Star Trek or even Star Wars book collecting? One catch line I have used for media interviews, which they always keep from me as a sound bite, is “Collecting James Bond is like collecting memorabilia from 20 Star Wars movies–there is just so much out there!” Bond books are no exception. Consider a typical title–let us call this exercise “The Many Faces of Dr. No”:

There was the beautiful and valued J. Cape first with its unusual Pat Marriott dustjacket; the first American hardback edition with Dr. No spying on a drugged and sleeping Bond, from Macmillan; two early Pans with slightly different painted covers by Peff, followed by a Pan with a spider web on its blue cover, a Pan with a stylized montage including Bond`s weapons, memories of Honey Rider, and Guerlain`s soap; a Pan with a bikinied Rider grasping her dagger; then a film version Pan (!); Signet paperbacks with two different covers; two more Macmillan editions, a “James Bond Mystery” with Walther and holster and an American book club edition; the Jove edition; a Berkley book with Bond in silhouette; the Coronet General book from Canada, also with silhouette and with the forward by Anthony Burgess; the Coronet from `93 with spider; the James Bond Classic Library with Bond and friend, Dr. No`s giant squid; the Triad Granada/Triad Panther with gal upon a (Exceptionally large weapon, you have there, Mr. Bond!) gun; large print editions sent to libraries from Chivers and New Portway and more–get the picture?

That list above does not include the sought after Mariott Cape variant without a Honey Rider silhouette stamped on its cover, multiple editions with the same layouts such as the British book club edition which also carries the Mariott artwork or Pans with the “purple band,” “yellow pan” or “Great Pan” stampings, etc., etc., etc.! Super collectors, no doubt with super wallets attached, have gone in sometimes for getting every printing of a particular title, such as grabbing all 23 printings of a Signet reprinted 22 times–ouch! I also have not yet mentioned privately leather bound and faux-leather bound editions or foreign books printed in more than a dozen languages with multiple artwork covers!

Hint: The incredible gaggle of Bond books, which far outnumber Q`s gadgets, leads to my next book collecting tip–have fun but specialize!

Examples of specialization that`s fun? Pick a set of books by publisher and go for them all, say, all the Fleming titles in Signet/New American Library. You would need the set of 14 Signets seen commonly at online auctions, plus the first printings only of the first eight Fleming titles, skipping Diamonds Are Forever, with their lovely painted covers: Casino Royale with a monocled Le Chiffre, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, From Russia With Love with its vivid art, (FRWL and CR are the toughest to find in good condition) Dr. No, Goldfinger and For Your Eyes Only.

Maybe for an encore, you look for the Signet box (of several different kinds with 12 or 13 of the 14 in the set bundled in boxes for Signet promotions) and you also buy the late reprints of the last four which came in two different covers each in the 1980s–On Her Majesty`s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, The Man With The Golden Gun and Octopussy or eight more books. Your Signets shelf is growing now so you grab Signet`s Thrilling Cities so you can read “James Bond in New York,” not printed in British editions, and O.F. Snelling`s classic 007 James Bond: A Report and of course you must aso have Kingsley Amis` The James Bond Dossier since you enjoyed his Colonel Sun, written under the pseudonym Robert Markham, so much! By now, you are a Signet “completist” or someone who seeks to find each and every of a set, so you search diligently for the Signet movie tie-in editions to Live and Let Die, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and curiously, Casino Royale, which looks remarkably like the poster art for the Bond spoof bearing its name!

Top off your goods with the late 80s risque cover reprints of Octopussy and The Man With The Golden Gun. Your wallet now considerably lighter, you praise God that Berkley/Coronet and not Signet printed the Gardner Bond novels, saving you 16 more purchases on top of your 40 new softcovers. Your Signet paperback shelf has forty different covers, is finished and to die for!

“More Specialties, Please”

Another specializing collector is the kind who highlights a favorite Bond, such as Connery, and scoops up the many titles foreign and domestic that bear his likeness, especially the French Plons, German Scherz/TOSA, rare Japanese paperbacks, and Belgium and Dutch titles here and there, and of course, English-language movie tie-ins of the 1960s, plus Diamonds Are Forever.

Even narrowing further are super specialists like Ben Miller and Craig Marciniak, specialists in a single book or film title. Ben has lived and worked in Japan on and off for more than a decade and is a top You Only Live Twice specialist, while Craig Marciniak joins the knowledgeable Steve Kulakoski and Charles Helfenstein as leading experts in all things On Her Majesty`s Secret Service. These hyper-specialists spend years researching furniture, decorations and cinematography glimpsed in a film, plus of course, its numerous book title appearances, toys, magazine articles, posters, autographs, stills and more. Craig`s online domain at specializes in the ultimate nitty-gritty for OHMSS, and Craig has opened a bottle of wide or two in Europe just to get French and German incidental dialogue translated!

You can specialize in British, American or other foreign titles or in “proof” books, printings issued for a test run before the first edition is a go. Tampa, Florida super-collector Don Kovalik has numerous valuable proofs. Specialize in “Bond only” or in books about the phenomenon or Mr. Fleming himself. A certain “S.K.” has made a mini-hobby out of collecting different Sean Connery biographies. “T.S.” is scooping up ALL the Signets. C.H. has a legendary publication, microfiche and magazine collection. B.F., J.C., J.P. and R.M. among others, (you know who you are!) have all the Fleming Capes as first editions, the heartless cads. (Yes, ALL, including Casino Royale! I could sell one of their sets and pay off my mortgage.) Friends are filling in the gaps on their “firsts collections,” dogging out all the movie firsts, all the painted firsts, all the 70s and 80s firsts. Not specializing and going for everything Bond in books can lead to poverty and sorrow!

Specialize, and stay sentimental. Why buy a book unless there is a story behind it? On the other hand, how about not unless the cover jumps up and bites you with style? I call certain collectors on a budget “differentists,” my word for collectors who pinch a penny by collecting titles only if the dustjacket offers something different from what they have in already. For example, the Macmillan For Your Eyes Only first is quite close to the first British Cape, as a matter of fact, the American has Richard Chopping`s drawing of Bond`s eye at the keyhole, with a few book accents to make the jacket slightly different. With a fine Cape FYEO fetching $750 and a fine Macmillan grabbing $250 – $400, why buy them both if the cover is so close? (By the by, did you know? Fleming had Chopping redo the eye color repeatedly until Chopping had Fleming`s vision of Bond`s clear gray eyes just right. More trivia: Did you know that For Your Eyes Only, was the only glossy dust cover of the Cape Bonds?)

The lovely British Book club editions would be another example for differentists on a budget. Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love and Dr. No have British Book Club jackets identical to the Capes and are skipped often by book club collectors. (In the same vein, GoldenEye`s British book club is identical to the Hodder first and License To Kill looks just like the Charter paperback for the same title.) For different jackets, Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty`s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, The Man With The Golden Gun, Colonel Sun and The Life of Ian Fleming all have attractive art. (Look under the jackets of the last two as some ran with a leatherette cover for the boards of the book!) These ten titles would look great on anyone`s shelf. On the other hand, the thought of getting the book clubs with the same covers for $15 – $40 each or one-fiftieth the price of the DAF, FRWL and Dr. No Capes is quite appealing as well!

Make your decisions: Cold has the same cover in hardback and paperback, why get the softcover? Goldfinger has the Chopping jacket in the first American and British, why get them both? (I can hear Sean Connery responding to “You think one book is better, eh?” with “No, just different. Like Peking duck is different than Russian caviar but I love them both.” We`re talking a limited budget here, Sean.)

Hint: Don`t just skip similar jackets. You can also go for later printings with the same look for the costlier titles, like the early Capes. $5,000 for a first Moonraker Cape? No, thanks. Fifty bucks for an sixth printing in top shape with the identical publishing details and jacket? Now we are talking!

Here are the beginning entries to Collectors` Corner`s lists of books for Bondian completists (thanks in advance for sending to us at Fandom your corrections on titles I am unaware of.) Warning! Auctions can play havoc, going up and sometimes down, with the suggested prices I have outlined here!

Collecting James Bond Stories: Heavy Hitters

British Firsts–Jonathan Cape/Hodder & Staughton

The 14 Fleming Bonds most are familiar with also had four cover variants, three of them printed around `83 or so (eighth printings or so)

1) Casino Royale was done with a “Vesper playing card” on a green background–one just sold for $170-plus dollars on auction (yikes!)

2) Cape redid Moonraker with the word “Moonraker” embossed in silver on the jacket

3) Dr. No`s first printing had a variant without the woman standing in the swamp

4) Dr. No had a later Cape printing with the words “Dr. No” in a stamp font on the cover on a paneled background like Signet`s James Bond Dossier

5) A limited signed edition, of course, was available for On Her Majesty`s Secret Service.

For the Capes, Richard Chopping`s name has become famous through his work on the Bonds. Goldfinger and From Russia With Love are considered his greatest triumphs. Mr. Fleming himself devised the cover art or concept for many of his novels.

Some of Ian Fleming`s other work/more Bond was beautifully rendered as highly collectible and valuable Capes; Thrilling Cities with its choice cover art by Davis and The Diamond Smugglers.

Other fantastic Capes include Colonel Sun, The Life of Ian Fleming, the killer-to-find Bond-wannabe The Adventures of 003½, The James Bond Dossier, and Christopher Wood`s movie novelizations of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker (now fetching amazing prices in fine or good condition).

The first five Gardner Bond novels were done by Cape, and ten more by owner Hodder & Staughton (including the novelization of GoldenEye). License to Kill appeared as a British hardcover in book club form only.) Raymond Benson`s Bond novels Zero Minus Ten, the Facts of Death, High Time to Kill and movie novelizations of Tomorrow Never Dies and the forthcoming The World Is Not Enough were also done by Hodder.

Total: Up to 46 veddy British fine titles any Bondian should be proud to own, costing each between $14,000 for a fine/fine (book is fine condition, dustjacket also) Casino Royale first, to $20 for certain Gardners and Flemings if you keep your eyes peeled.

American First Editions:

Casino Royale through Goldfinger was published under Macmillan–Live and Let Die was published as “A Cock Robin Thriller”. For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball and The Spy Who Loved Me were Viking; On Her Majesty`s Secret Service through Octopussy were New American Library–for all practical purposes we can think of the three publishers as one company with NAL publishing Signet paperbacks.

Pricing runs the gamut between $1,000 – $2,000 for a fine copy of Casino Royale with a bright jacket and $15 – $25 for a copy of Octopussy. Why the wide disparities in Bond book prices? The number printed of each title. Expectations were limited for Casino Royale but tens of thousands of the later novels were run as first editions by Cape and NAL both.

Pan Paperbacks:

Pan Flight One (pun intended): Painted Pan covers by Peff, others; Casino Royale (3 different covers); Live and Let Die (2 covers); Moonraker (3 covers); Diamonds Are Forever (2 covers); From Russia With Love (2 covers); Dr. No (2 covers); Goldfinger (Fleming look-alike on cover); For Your Eyes Only (“Pericolo de Morte” sign)

Also notable as painted Pans:

The Diamond Smugglers (2 different covers)

Another set was of 14 covers with matching design elements: From Russia With Love (Fabergé egg), Goldfinger (Rolls Royce cover), etc. A variant Casino Royale has Le Chiffre`s check double printed on it.

There are Pan “Montage covers” for all 14 Flemings? I have seen copies of 12, and a 13th Fleming title has been documented. I am unaware of a still life cover for Live and Let Die.

“Heroines in action poses”: All 14 except LALD, OHMMS and YOLT Thunderball and Ohmms have a “girl and gun” Pan made.

Film tie-ins: Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love, Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty`s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice and The Man With The Golden Gun all have film tie-ins Pans attached.

Other notable Pans: The Life of Ian Fleming (same cover as J. Cape 1st), Roger Moore as James Bond (account of filming LALD), James Bond, The Authorized Biography by John Pearson, The Book of Bond, The James Bond Dossier and Thrilling Cities (printed as parts 1 and 2, with covers that make one cohesive picture laid side by side).

Prices: Painted covers run from $15 – $20 for a fine copy of the later titles to $75 and up for the 1st printings of Casino Royale or Moonraker, certainly two of the toughest Bond paperbacks.

All other Pans can be had for $5 to $15 each, with the exception of relatively scarce titles such as Thrilling Cities or paperbacks in extra fine condition.

First American Paperbacks:

Casino Royale was introduced to American paperback readers as a pulp thriller under the alternate title of You Asked For It, replete with Jimmy Bond pouring a stiff one while vamp Vesper shares his room. Live and Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever, plus Moonraker as “Too Hot To Handle” were other early softcovers eagerly sought for their pulp art.

You Asked For It and Moonraker are rightfully valued as $350 books, which seem to fetch considerably less at auction, however. Live and Let Die and Moonraker used to sell for $50 and $75 at Bond fan gatherings, and they may be gleaned at auction for $25 or even less at times.

Signet Paperbacks: (See complete list above).

Enough for now, gang. Time will fail me if I tell of the proof titles, John Gardner books, Coronets, Berkleys and Joves, Taiwanese piracies and heavy Bond hitters like Holmes meets 007 (less than 300 copies worldwide, Ian Fleming`s The State of Excitement (three copies worldwide) Ian and I (one copy on earth). Even a first printing of Raymond Benson`s James Bond Bedside Companion is grabbing $200! Plus, I will have more tips for you on everything books from condition and price clipping to scooping up bargains. The Collectors` Corner will return to books, eventually. On the other hand, maybe I should write that collecting book already.

Next time will be “Collecting the BackBurner Productions of Bond”. Watch this section of 007Forever for more collecting fun on the way!

Written with grateful acknowledgment to the many collectors who have helped me pave the Bond book way, especially Steve Kulakoski of For Your Eyes Only Books, and Bryan Krofchok and Russell MacKenzie of The Bond Index.

–Matt Sherman is Co-Editor of 007Forever, which means he might have to scan in all his rare James Bond books and then throw them away permanently.

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