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2008 by the numbers

The world may be in the grip of a global recession, but that hasn’t stopped some people from spending profligate amounts online for individual books. According to AbeBooks.com’s list of most expensive books sold in 2008, the top price was paid for a copy of Francis Seymour Haden’s Études à l’Eau-Forte, a collection of 25 etchings, which went for the modest sum of $17,216. Also on the list was a first edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which sold for $12,874.

Meanwhile, on the AbeBooks’ bestseller lists, Canada’s own Eckhart Tolle scored the top spot for the North American site, with the Oprah-endorsed volume A New Earth. Other books on the North American list include The Audacity of Hope, by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama, Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom, and “ appearing somewhat out of place among the nine other potboilers and self-help pablum “ Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Quillblog is puzzled by this one, and wonders whether it represents a momentary lapse of reason on the part of the reading public or whether it just appeared on a massive number of course syllabi in 2008.

The Germans seem to have better more sophisticated more literary tastes than their North American counterparts: AbeBooks’ German site has The Gulag Archipelago and The Divine Comedy at the number one and two spots, respectively.

UPDATE: This story contains material that has been corrected. The title of Eckhart Tolle’s volume was originally cited as A Good Earth, which is incorrect. Quillblog regrets the error.