The auction is being conducted online now and at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas March 6-7. The volume is one of only 200 such copies issued by the London publisher, Bloomsbury.
"This is a 1997 first edition of 'Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone' with the original publisher's illustrated softcover wrapper and an illustrated card signed by the author, J.K. Rowling. The bidding already has reached $15,000; nearly $18,000 with the buyer's premium included. The previous auction record was $10,750," James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auction Galleries, said in a statement.
The anonymous consignor, described by Gannon as "an avid book collector from England," said he's surprised -- and delighted -- at the early bidding.
"It takes a lot to shock me, but this is probably as shocked as I have ever been regarding auction bidding. Has the world gone mad? We are in the deepest recession for 80 years and a 'Harry Potter' children's paperback book is setting a record price," the seller said.
"Now that the final book in the 'Harry Potter' series has come out and the movies are nearing completion, I think collectors are finally realizing that this is not just going to be a rare book, but also an important piece of cultural history," Gannon said.