World’s most expensive book is now for sale

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John James Audubon's "The Birds of America" is the most expensive book in the world and for sale at Sotheby's.

Believe it or not, a book that isn't Jonathan Franzen's Freedom is finally making headlines. John James Audubon's The Birds of America, the world's most expensive book, is up for sale at Sotheby's.

The book, originally published for wealthy nineteenth-century Britons, is one of only 119 complete copies and comes from the estate of Baron Frederick Fermor-Hesketh, a wealthy twentieth-century Briton. Also being sold from his library are a copy of the First Folio — a bounded collection of Shakespeare plays which the Anglophilic Sotheby's deems as "the most important book in all of English literature"  and letters from Queen Elizabeth regarding Mary, Queen of Scots.

And while all of this is certainly exciting enough to make Stephen Greenblatt throw up all over his bureau, it becomes less so when you take a look at the standing prices: Birds last cost $8.8 million, the Folio last cost $2.3 million, and Queen Elizabeth's letters last cost Mary Stewart's head. Zing!