eBay Bidder's 'Dreams' About Obama Book Realized Why would a book sell for about $300 on the Internet when it would soon be in stores for $30? That's what happened in 2004 to Dreams From My Father, the memoir of then-U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama. Day to Day replays a conversation with a top e-Bay bidder for the book.

eBay Bidder's 'Dreams' About Obama Book Realized

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And now, let's travel back in time to August 2004. Barack Obama was still a U.S. Senate candidate. He'd just spoken at the Democratic Convention and made something of a splash. NPR, like a lot of media outlets, described him as a, quote, "rising star in the Democratic Party." After his speech, his book, "Dreams from My Father," became the focus of a bidding war on eBay. NPR's Noah Adams talked with Melanie Hour of Denver, who was, at that moment, the high bidder in the online auction.

(Soundbite of NPR's Day to Day, August 4, 2004)

NOAH ADAMS: Tell me how even thought - knew about the book in the first place. You saw Barack Obama talk at the convention, but how did you know he had a book to go looking for on eBay?

Ms. MELANIE HOUR: Well, I saw all of the celebration that was going on after his speech, and I thought, I wonder if Barack has ever written a book. And sure enough, the first day I got on eBay right after the speech, they had campaign buttons and everything. But being an avid book collector, I was in search of a book, perhaps a signed book, and I was so intrigued with his speech, and I was so - such a supporter of him after hearing what he had to say in, you know, the essential values of America that I felt that it was important for me to have as an American citizen. I mean, people are just buzzing around here about him, and from reading from his background, I knew he was going to be a star.

ADAMS: Now, it is a long way, though, from being appreciative of a star turn at the Democratic Convention to paying well over $200 for Barack Obama's first book in hard cover, first edition.

Ms. HOUR: Well, I'll tell you, I'm a collector of first editions and signed first-edition books, and I think someday he will be famous in his own way, whether it be in Chicago or on a national level. And this is one of the rare first-edition books. Granted, it's not signed, but it's out of print as a hard cover. And I think it'll increase its value within the right amount of time, and also I would love to read more about his background.

ADAMS: So, you'll get a chance to read it. But if you're a collector, this book, I understand, is unread, and that's a category for collectors. So, could you actually kind of sneak a read through there, would it - if you get it?

Ms. HOUR: Well, sometimes what I do is - you're absolutely right. I do sneak a read, or I'll buy a paperback version so I can get - so I can really get my hands on it and get involved with - in the book and intrigued with the book. But this one - being that I collect first editions, it is meaningful for me. Some of my other books include a signed Ernest Hemmingway, Truman Capote, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton. So, I'm kind of in that category. And in the year of campaigns, I think that this is the high cheering(ph) night. It was something special and treasured in my heart for me.

ADAMS: We are looking at an eBay price right now - and this is Tuesday, when we're talking...

Ms. HOUR: Mm-hmm.

ADAMS: Of $255. How high are you prepared to go?

Ms. HOUR: Mm, well, let me put it this way; I will try my best to win the auction as this is almost - you would consider it a rare memorabilia and a rare book, being that it's out of print now, and almost going on 10 years old and in fine condition.

ADAMS: Melanie Hour, thank you for talking with us from Denver.

Ms. HOUR: Well, it's been a pleasure talking with you, Noah. Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

ADAMS: Ms. Hour did do her best, to the tune of $260, but she didn't win. The first edition eventually went for $310.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: That was NPR's Noah Adams speaking to Melanie Hour back in August of 2004 about a rising star in the Democratic Party named Barack Obama. And we just logged on to eBay to see how the book is doing now: A hard-cover first edition "Dreams from My Father." Asking price? $5,000. NPR's Day to Day continues.

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