“Demand has soared, from Chaucer to Harry Potter. Some of the best-known classics have also been made even more popular by TV and film adaptations in recent years,” he said.
A first edition copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice would reliably sell for between £20,000 and £30,000 six years ago, he said, but a recent flurry of on-screen period dramas had supercharged demand.
“We sold a copy of the same book for £70,000 in March. It’s indicative of how certain genres have dramatically risen in price and desirability,” Mr Powell added.
The wizarding world of Hogwarts has also long been a firm favourite with bidders, said Mr Moss.
“The people who first read Harry Potter when they were children are now earning and have a bit of money behind them to buy a first edition or particularly special version,” he added.
Enthusiasts will happily part with thousands of pounds to add iconic works to their collections. “But you don’t know how much people will bid until the second it happens – they keep their cards very close to their chest,” said Mr Moss.
First editions, the earliest publication of a book, are highly desirable among collectors. Condition is a huge factor too: the more pristine the book, the higher the price.
Mr Powell said: “If the dust jacket of a book is in perfect condition it will bring in a much higher price than if it is well thumbed.
“The very fact that it is being sold at auction pushes up its worth too. If you buy a book from a retailer, you pay a fixed price. But the element of competitive bidding in an auction can take over and who knows how much it will eventually go for.”