The University of British Columbia Acquires First Edition of “Philosopher’s Stone”!

The University of British Columbia’s library in Vancouver has purchased a rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as has been reported by sources, including CBC. The book was purchased for US$36,500, or about C$47,000, from a private bookseller in New York.

CBC quoted the head of Rare Books and Special Collections, Katherine Kalsbeek, who described her excitement for the new acquisition.

We’re pretty thrilled to have been able to purchase a copy of this particular book. We weren’t sure we were going to be able to … because it seemed like we had started the collecting process a little too late.

The UK first edition now completes the university’s collection of first editions of the Harry Potter series from the US, UK, and Canada. The collection, as CBC notes, began in 2015, and it is intended for both students studying children’s literature and the general public.

Only 500 first-edition copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone were published in 1997. 300 of those, CBC adds, went to libraries. Kalsbeek commented on the rarity.

It was printed in a very small print run because [author] J.K. Rowling was not well known either in England or at all internationally. She was just a new writer. They didn’t publish very many copies, because they weren’t sure how popular it would be.

Of course, the Harry Potter series grew in popularity. That popularity also means that the book, which is being kept in the library’s reading room, has some rules around it. Kalsbeek additionally described the procedures set in place to ensure that the book remains unharmed.

You’re not allowed to bring your Slurpee. You can’t bring your coffee. We do ask that your hands are clean and we do ask people to put away their coats and their bags in lockers that we provide.

In the university’s own announcement about the book, it is noted that drop-in tours are offered to all, including the general public, every Wednesday.

What do you think of the University of British Columbia’s purchase? Would you buy a first edition of a Harry Potter book if you could, or do you think that they should be preserved? Remember to check out our “Rare Books” section to find out more about rare Harry Potter books!