“That was the first time I found a first-edition ‘Book of Mormon.’ At the time the book was worth about $10,000-$15,000.”
About five years ago, Monie came across another first-edition ‘Book of Mormon.’ The book sold for $60,000. The same book is worth $75,000 today, according to Willis.
“I can sell a $60,000 rare book in about five minutes, while a $6 book could sit on the shelf for years,” Monie said.
The book business has change in the past 25 years. Many people are using tablets and iPads to read everything from classic literature to new novels. But for many, there is still a desire for the physical sensation of holding a book and turning the pages.
Books have a feel and smell computer devices cannot imitate. People still want books.
“I remember back in the ‘70s when there was a recession, libraries lost a lot of their funding and there were lots of books on the market,” Monie said. “The ‘80s were boom years for collectors.
“And now we have seen another recession. The Internet has really changed the business, too.”
Monie asked his son, Willis Monie Jr., to join the business at the end of the 1990s. Willis Monie Jr. was instrumental in creating the online store.
“I was living in Georgia at the time,” Willis Monie Jr. said. “It was about the time the Internet was just getting started in the late ‘90s or early 2000s. I came back here to help get that going.”
Willis Monie Books has a wide selection of baseball cards and books, Americana, theology, art, history, fiction, literary criticisms and biographies, science and natural history, cookbooks, cinema, business and economics, music and opera, children’s, crime and law, and psychology. The books are listed online from a few dollars to several hundred dollars.