Before Frodo, before Samwise, before Merry Brandybuck, there was Bilbo Baggins. A legendary creature with his own eccentric tale, Bilbo was the unlikely hero Hobbit who set the stage for the classic J.R.R.Tolkien Lord of the Rings series. The movies are renowned by their own account, but the words are where you find the inception of Tolkien’s fantastical worlds…places like Middle Earth and Misty Mountains come to life, along with creatures like elves, dwarves, trolls, dragons, and what else, furry feeted hobbits.
Okay, so we geek out at anything Tolkien. But isn’t it hard not to? The man has created an unrealistic world so realistic that it lives on decades after the first book was published 75 years ago. Then, we geek out even more when we come across a small rare boutique bookshop like The Tolkien Bookshelf. David Miller runs this ultra niche bookshop from the small town of Newton, Kansas and specializes in anything Tolkien. He started out as a collector and slowly started upgrading his collection and turned that collection his own bookstore.
We asked David what the Tolkien draw was for him. “I was always drawn to the imagery in Tolkien’s works. From the time in Junior High when I stole my sister’s copy of the Hobbit to read, I was hooked. There are literally dozens of different editions of Tolkien’s works. Not the usual First or Second Editions, but you also have Deluxe Edition, Limited Editions, Limited/Signed/Numbered Editions. You have 25th, 50th and even 75th Anniversary Editions, not even counting the Super Deluxe Editions, which had the first 100 copies of those signed by Christopher Tolkien.”
With The Hobbit movie being released today, what better way to celebrate than to pick up a 1st US Edition, 1st Impression 3rd State Copy of The Hobbit with a custom slipcase for $1,900? You could also find a matched set of The Lord of the Rings, 1st UK Edition, 1st Impression with Dustjackets and Clamshell case for just $33,250.00. The fun thing about collecting Tolkien books with David is that there is always room for upgrades—he always offers full trade in value, so it’s a built in way to build up your sets over the years. Pick one you can afford and enjoy, then later on move on up, when you can enjoy it.
Anyone can go online and find out about anything anymore. So the internet has cut down on ‘gold mines’, or at least for me it has. However the internet in itself is probably the best ‘gold mine’ I’ve run across. How else can someone in Kansas deal in scarce or rare Tolkien Books and ephemera. – David Miller, owner of The Tolkien Bookshelf
We also asked David’s advice for anyone looking to get into book collecting. “Real estate may be location, location, location, but book collecting/selling is condition/condition/condition. Lots of money, more patience, and a love for the business of books. There’s nothing better than to help someone find the perfect set of books, out of the multitude available.” Everytime someone stops by The Tolkien Bookshelf for a visit, the first thing they see is a dozen or more matched sets of The Lord of the Rings. That is a dozen or more for the UK editions, a dozen or so for the US Editions, same for the Hobbits, usually you can march right down the list for what impression or year you might have a preference for.
With the movie released today their Hobbit selections have been flying off the shelves, so you better snatch one up before Gollum gets there before you. Make sure you buy a cheap reading copy too—these rare copies are much too precious…