This past Saturday, the Guardian news paper here in the UK ran an article about Photographic books. To summarise, they suggested that buying photography books from unknown photographic artists is a good way to invest for the future.
I would agree that certainly, limited edition copies of photographic books are very collectable. Whether they will help you in your retirement is another matter.
If you haven't guessed yet, I'm a bit of a collector of photographic books. (I just bought Bill Schwab's 2nd edition of Gathering calm to sit nicely against the first edition, and I also bought Rolfe Horn's 28 Photographs). I find them immensely beautiful objects to own, and a very absorbing way to appreciate someones work. Just a few months ago I reviewed Michael Kenna's Huangshan book, which I still think is one of the most beautifully printed books I've ever seen. Printed on high end Japanese uncoated art paper, the photographs take on a spirit and a feeling I could never get from browsing a web site.
To digress a little, my own book is being printed by the very same printer, and they have let me know that there was a lot of time and effort that went into sourcing the paper and inks for Huangshan.
Anyway, I digress. Huangshan is almost sold out (it was limited to 1,000 copies) and prices on the web are rising steadily. It's only been out for 4 to 6 months.
So I'm wondering - maybe there is something in the Guardian's article. But ultimately, I would prefer to collect books because I love them, appreciate them, and enjoy getting lost in their contents for a few hours now and then. That to me, is priceless.
ps. If you're interested in any of these books, you can get Gathering Calm from Beyond Words book shop, but I think that Rolfe's book is now out of print. Best to ask Neil if you do enquire or go look on Abebooks (second hand site), but expect prices to be high for books on Abebooks due to the collect-ability of photographic books i've just been discussing.