Speculative Markets

A friend of mine has fair-to-middling luck playing the McSweeney’s speculative market—snapping up whatever junk the publisher has put out, waiting a bit, then selling it at a tidy profit to some nerd who probably hasn’t read it either. (An eBay search suggests he won’t be retiring soon, but there are probably black markets for Eggersiana I haven’t heard about. Want my first edition of You Shall Know Our Velocity!? Make me an offer.) An article by Anne Trubek in the Utne Reader (originally published last fall in Good) studies the vicissitudes of collecting “hypermodern” literature, giving some space to McSweeney’s fare, with a few other options. William T. Vollmann isn’t one of them, though. Trubek writes:

Collecting is a risky game, though. Some scored with McCarthy, but followers of William T. Vollmann lost big in the 1990s. Ken Lopez, a bookseller who specializes in modern and hypermodern titles, told me of a failed attempt to corner Vollmann futures: “A small group of young guys got together to monopolize the market,” he says. “They would travel to book signings, buy 10 copies of Vollmann’s books for $17.50, and mark the prices up to $100.” But they overshot, and today the market is overstocked, supply having outstripped demand.