What's Going on with the Price of 'Lost Lives' by McKittrick et al? - Belfast Books

Being as now I’m an official ‘Person of Influence’ in the microscopic Belfast used book circuit, I thought I would share my wisdom with you all on the Belfast Books shop blog.

Out of print books are like freshly landed fish - their price can change daily, based on supply and demand. 

If you've been to our shop you'll see that for the more expensive books, we scan them at the time of purchase to see what price sellers are asking at that exact second. Today, a customer saved himself £10 on a Doctor Who collectible book by us checking today's market price for a book he picked up in the shop and wanted to buy. We were delighted to tell him the good news and he went off, happy as a sand boy.

An extreme example of this price fluctuation is the seminal Troubles book 'Lost Lives' by McKittrick et al. The Amazon search page here shows all listings of Lost Lives currently on sale by third party sellers on Amazon.

For those book nerds out there who have a barcode scanner on their Christmas list, the real title of the tome in question is Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children Who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles . It comes in hardcover, was first published in 1999, and last published in revised format in 2008 by Chris Thornton (Author), Seamus Kelters (Author), Brian Feeney (Author), David McKittrick (Author).

Unless you’re challenging your inner librarian, or doing the good old cut and paste from this blog post there’s no need to put the full title in to search on Amazon - as  ‘Lost Lives McKittrick ‘ will do.

Around 18 months ago the second hand price for this book averaged £15, half of what it cost when new. Today, in its various Amazon listings, used sellers are asking between £115-£613 including UK delivery. Yes, nearly £500 difference for the same used book (in all its 25 different printings from 1999-2008).

The book itself is an important Troubles book, more because of the easily digestible information it holds on each death, rather than any political commentary. However, there is also a lacuna as big as a Laguna in that it was last published in revised format in 2008. For students of Troubles history, that means those who lost their lives since 'Lost Lives' was last printed aren't included in the print copies. So as a guide to people murdered in Northern Ireland by groups and individuals whose ‘craft’ was forged in the Troubles, ‘Lost Lives’ is silent after 2008, and for me that should push the value down, not up. It should also push the publishers to update and republish. I'll be speaking with them directly about that.

Personally I value all versions of Lost Lives at McKittrick it at in and around the £70-80 retail price bracket in VERY GOOD condition, which is the most popular grade of used books, especially hardbacks. For those of you holding signed copies I’d value it at up to £160 if signed by all four authors; and at £100 if signed by one; £120 by two; and £140 by only three authors. If you've a first edition, first printing you can add 50% to all those valuations.

Some of you might be surprised that at this stage I am not differentiating in value between the 25 different printings of 'Lost Lives'. Surely the most up to date editions must be the most sought after, and therefore the most valuable? Not necessarily as it all depends on how many books are out there in the marketplace of each edition. I'll speak with the publishers and see what print runs of each book were produced for what edition, and reserve the right to plus or minus individual editions. 

I’ll also do a second piece on this Lost Lives saga when I'll look at who is selling copies of the book, how they have arrived at that pricing, and why. I’ll also share will you who might buy hyper price inflated used books, and why.

Subscribers to our mailing list here will get this first, so it might be a good idea to pop over and join that. A bit like Crimestoppers the Mailchimp powered list won’t ask for your name, but it will ask for your email.

July 15, 2016 — John Junk


nick prince

nick prince said:

I really would love to have it as well, but I will not give in to money grubbers.

Anthony McGreevy

Anthony McGreevy said:

William Crawley, presenter of Talkback on BBC Radio Ulster claimed the book is now valued at £750 and he has 3 copies of it which aren’t for sale.

Gerry armstrong

Gerry armstrong said:

If the Irish goverment or any other goverment are interested in owning the rights of lost lives,why don’t they try and ensure that every family receives a copy of this book⚖️

Martin Felton

Martin Felton said:

I always wished I had bought that book. Just looked it up hoping I still had a chance. Can’t believe the price tag. Will there ever be a reprint?


Audrea said:

I’m a new subscriber to your email list. Wondering if you’ve had any updates on this? How did your talks with the publisher go? Seems a shame if they won’t print an updated edition. Looking forward to hearing the latest from you!

Tim Foster

Tim Foster said:

I just heard of this book in a discussion of a related book by Patrick Radden Keefe. The Amazon price for Lost Lives is still holding steady at $225 US.

I’d much rather hold a book in my hands but the Internet Archive does have a copy they are loaning out, if you want to read it on your kindle.

Lj Conway

Lj Conway said:

I’d love to have this book. I was born in Dublin 1969 and would love to go back in time to show both sides of the troubles all of the unnecessary murders and carnage that would unfold in the forthcoming years. But would that have even made a difference ❓

Aileen Roleston

Aileen Roleston said:

Was going to buy a copy of this book for a friend but can not afford to pay more than £50. I bought a copy some years ago at approximately £40. I checked on Amazon site all priced are over £100 which I fail to understand.

Kevin McGhee

Kevin McGhee said:

Lost lives is a book I would love to read having read the first book ‘Understanding the troubles’ but lets real and say no way will I pay over the odds for a book that, as you rightly say, is not an up to date version. I wait to see you next comments after contact with the publishers.

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