From the FAQ:

Are Modern Library books
expensive to collect?

As book collecting goes, no. But cost depends on a number of factors including whether you collect only copies in dust jacket, the era you collect, and the condition you demand.

The most expensive Modern Library segment is the Boni-Liveright period (1917-1925). Collecting these puppies in dust jacket will cost you upwards - sometimes WAAAAY upwards - of $150 apiece in decent condition. At the other end of the spectrum, you can pick up most pieces from the Blumenthal years (1939-1963) for a few dollars each without dust jacket, or in dust jacket for less than $15 each.

Collecting first edition books in matching dust jackets is pretty expensive, and getting more so. This specific area seems to be a growing favorite among Modern Library collectors, driving up prices. (Books, or anything else for that matter, are not valuable simply because they are scarce, but because they are scarce in relation to demand.) A record price for a Modern Library book was set in 2003, when a Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby in a first issue DJ sold for $1,201 on ebay.

The higher your condition requirements, the more you'll spend: Expect to pay X for a Very Good copy, 2*X for a Near Fine copy, and 4*X for a Fine or As New copy.

Of course, there are always bargains to be had. Many book dealers don't understand the value of older Modern Library titles, or even the relative scarcity of more modern titles in first edition dust jackets like Catcher in the Rye. The more time you have to browse, the more likely you are to get really great deals.

Luckily there are myriad ways to collect the Modern Library. See "Collecting the Modern Library — A Gentle Introduction" for some examples.

Contributors to this FAQ answer include:

Henry Toledano Pete Chocheles

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