The Tales of Beedle the Bard
JK Rowling’s first book since the conclusion of the Harry Potter series fetched a huge chunk of change. Published in December 2007, Beedle was the complete book of fairy tales that play a crucial role in the final instalment of the Harry Potter series. JK Rowling produced seven separate handwritten copies of Beedle, filled with illustrations she herself had drawn. These books were incredibly beautiful: leather-bound, with silver and moonstones decorating the cover. Rowling gave six of these ‘Moonstone Editions’ to friends and people who worked on the Harry Potter books, but one went up for auction on Amazon. One mega-fan paid US$3.98 million for it, and Rowling donated the proceeds to a children’s charity. While far from the most expensive book on this list, Beedle was the priciest book ever purchased that was written and published in the twenty-first century.
Traité des Arbres Fruitiers
The title of this eighteenth-century French handbook translates to Treatise of Fruit Trees. The book was written by botanist Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau and contained five separate volumes filled with detailed illustrations. This manuscript went for €3.4 million (about AU$5.2 million) at a 2006 auction. Yes, someone spent over five million dollars for a book about fruit trees.
The Gutenberg Bible
This was the first-ever edition of the ‘Good Book’ to be produced using moveable-type print, with Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press (hence the name). Despite being mass-produced, the Gutenberg Bible is still incredibly rare and valuable, as its AU$8.4 million price tag makes clear. Only 48 copies of the original 1450s-printed batch remain today. The buyer of this copy was Maruzen Co. Ltd., a major Japanese bookseller. At the time, 1987, it set the record for the most expensive book ever purchased.