One thing I learned in law school is that we can't know the "value" of anything. All you can know is how much someone actually paid the last time the thing was for sale.
This comes up in all sorts of valuation situations, but for romance readers, it's relevant when you find an author you love and her backlist is hard to glom.
Mary Balogh is just such an author. From 1985 to 1997 she wrote 40+ Signet Regency and Signet Super Regency romances. Some have been rereleased, but many have not. And those that haven't can be very expensive if purchased online as used books.
I have three of the least expensive in my TBR: A Masked Deception (1985), The Incurable Matchmaker (1990), and Snow Angel (1991); I own two more that I have read: Tempting Harriet (1994) and The Temporary Wife (1997); and I've borrowed at least one from Janet W: Dancing with Clara (1994).
I'm glad I didn't. Oh, they're okay -- and having gotten to read them for free was a treat -- but if I'd paid that much money for them, I'd have felt a bit gypped.
Now, maybe it's sheer perversity that these were the ones my friend had kept, and all her other Mary Baloghs -- which she thinks she just listed on PaperbackSwap (!!) back in the day -- were sublime. Or maybe her taste and mine don't jibe. Or I'm just being a cranky reader, which is the default assumption in all such situations.
But whatever the reasons, these books seemed not nearly as fluid, engaging, and memorable as Balogh's more recent books, e.g., the Slightly and Simply series.
[If you're keeping score at home: I liked The Double Wager the best of the three, but it wouldn't have been a keeper, particularly as Balogh's done the supercilious duke better elsewhere and the circumstances keeping the hero and heroine apart seemed silly. The Gift of Daisies was refreshingly duke-free -- and therefore quizzing-glass-free -- but the hero came across as a bit of a prig, willing to sacrifice his and the heroine's happiness because he presumes her "true" preferences no matter what she says. And I liked An Unlikely Duchess so little that I skimmed vast bits of it just to see if the jewels get recovered. That was a shame because in many ways I liked the hero and heroine of An Unlikely Duchess best of all. I just didn't like the book.]
One lesson from this is that I'm happy to wait for the other two dozen Signet romances to be rereleased in their turn. I'd rather pay the conventional $7.99 + sales tax (or shipping) when the time comes than pay a lot of money (none of which would go into Mary Balogh's pocket) for a used book I might not enjoy.
So -- is an OOP worth $10 + s&h just because that's what's someone's willing to pay? Not to this cranky reader.