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Today's Beach Reading, Tomorrow's Rare Tome

January 26, 2003|ALICIA GARGARO

Harvey and Louis M. Jason opened Mystery Pier Books in 1998 intending to specialize in first-edition mysteries. But the focus broadened to "the 19th to 20th century big ones" when the father-and-son duo saw how visitors to their Sunset Strip rare-book emporium zeroed in on Steinbeck, Hemingway and Faulkner. "We're a nation of collectors," says Harvey. "We're also a nation of investors. Books appreciate more quickly than paintings or sculpture; unlike the stock market, there's no risk." Since October 1998, Harvey says, one Mystery Pier client has spent $491,000 on a collection now worth $1.3 million. Below, some judicious handicapping courtesy of the Jasons.

TOMORROW'S HOT PICKS

"The Lovely Bones," by Alice Sebold: Blockbuster with a small first printing. Signed first editions run $150 to $250.

"Carter Beats the Devil," by Glen David Gold: Sebold's husband. Signed firsts are about $150 and rising.

"The Crimson Petal and the White," by Michel Faber: The UK edition is the "true first." They believe this Dickensian epic about a young London prostitute, circa 1870s, is the greatest book of the last decade.

PLUMMETING FAST

That magnificent literary masterpiece "Bridges of Madison County." Today a first edition will cost you $15. (A first signed by the author and film stars Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep will set you back $4,000.)

MOST OVERVALUED

John Grisham's first book. Or second. With or without signature.

Annie Proulx ain't far behind.

NEVER INVEST IN

The above.

Sequels of any sort.

Anything by Joyce Carol Oates.

Anything by Helen Fielding.

Anything by anyone with the last name of Osbourne.

Viggo Mortenson poetry.

Recommendations by Regis, Kelly or Rosie.

Diet books, one and all.

The first, last or next by Jackie Collins and/or her sister.

An autobiography of Dr. Phil.

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