Where to start when you decide to create an Agatha Christie collection?
First let’s look at the scale of the task. She wrote 66 novels and 14 short story collections, so it’s no small feat to collect them all. Let’s have a look at some of your options.
Well, if you have deep pockets you could collect the first editions. But that could be very expensive. A first of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, her first novel, will set you back around £10,000. So a full set of first editions is probably outwith the budget of most normal people. Maybe if you’re Bill Gates?
But there are lots of more reasonable options for those of us with more limited budgets.
You could just collect good condition hardbacks in dustjackets. You can pick up nice reprints (Crime Club editions for example) for under £100 and there are Book Club editions from the 50s and 60s that you can pick up for £10 to £20. Make sure you check the condition of the dustjacket as that’s going to be the most visible thing.
There’s a set of small hardbacks with dark spines and coloured boards called the Agatha Christie Collection which was a partwork and came with a magazine. They’re not hard to find and you can pick these up for about £5 to £10 each. They do look good on a shelf
Hamlyn published a set called the Agatha Christie Crime Collection which had 3 books in each volume and came with lovely white dustjackets. You can pick these up for£10 to £25 each.
In the early 2000s Collins started to reprint the original Crime Club books in facsimile dustwrappers. These are lovely little volumes and look amazing shelved. The artwork on the dustwappers is particularly nice. They are easy to find for the most part and cost about £15 to £25 each.
If, like me, you love a vintage paperback then you have a whole range of options. Some (but not all) are available in classic Penguin Crime green & white covers. Fontana have several sets with different covers as they were re-issued over the years. The 1960s and 70s ones with cover art by Tom Adams are especially good. There are some Pan paperbacks too with lovely lurid covers. Maybe get a few different ones to see which you prefer then have fun collecting as many as you can of the series you like best. They sell for just a few pounds mostly. You do need to watch the condition of these, especially when buying on eBay, but any decent seller will be happy to send you additional photos of endspines and corners etc.
You could, of course, pick your favourite title (mine is the Mirror Crack’d) and then collect as many different editions of that particular title as you can find. That’s probably a lifetime project, especially if you include foreign editions!
However you decide to collect, make sure you have fun. Really it’s just an excuse to spend more time in secondhand bookshops. I mean you could order them from Amazon or go into Waterstones and buy them new off the shelf but where’s the fun in that! Because really there’s nothing quite like finding an elusive long-searched-for title on a shelf in a used book shop.
And to kick-start your collection we have gift boxes of vintage Agatha Christie paperbacks available on the website. They’re great too if you want to share the Agatha love with someone who hasn’t discovered her yet. They’ll be in for a treat.
Our next blog post will be about how to care for your collection, or your books in general. Until then, happy reading!