‘Harry Potter’ Book Bought for $1 Sold for $57,000 — Here’s Why

A first edition copy of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — the author’s debut novel (the U.S. version is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and the first in her acclaimed series about the boy who lived — sold at auction for more than $57,000. Continue reading to learn why the book, originally purchased for $1 — yes, one dollar — went for £46,000 (approximately $57,303) at auction in the U.K. Learn how much money Rowling earned for writing the series here

Why did the book sell for so much money? 

'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone| Christie’s/Getty Images
  1. It’s a rare book:

The fact that there were a very limited number first-editions out there made for a higher price. Initially, only 500 copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were printed in 1997 when the book was published.

2. The book’s condition:

The condition of the book made it even more valuable. 

Why was the book in such great condition? A family kept the book as an heirloom locked away in a briefcase and only decided to sell it when they learned about another copy that went for more than $35,000, according to BBC per Newsweek.

'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' books
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling | Alex Wong/Newsmakers

He continued saying, “The owners took such great care of their precious cargo they brought it to me in a briefcase, which they unlocked with a secret code. It felt like we were dealing in smuggled diamonds.”

Coincidentally, the sale of the family’s book, took place on July 31, Rowling’s birthday and that of her iconic character, Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe in the Harry Potter film franchise (get the order of the movies here).

Book was expected to sell for less

The first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was expected to sell for anywhere from £20,000 and £30,000, or about $24,000 to $37,000. Thanks to a bidding war via telephone, the book sold at a higher price. 

$57,303 or £46,000 was the winning bid but the buyer had to pay a total of £57,040 amounting to $71,000 in taxes and fees. 

“I’m absolutely thrilled the book did so well—it deserved to,” Hanson said. “A 1997 first edition hardback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the holy grail for collectors as so few were printed.”

The hardback in immaculate condition wasn’t the only Harry Potter book up for auction. A total of 12 Harry Potter first editions were up for sale. 
Published in the U.K. in June of 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was retitled and published in the U.S. the following year. Learn what books came after Rowling’s first novel in the series here.