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Finding The Value Of Old Books

how to determine value of old books

One dealer may have lucked out and found the book in a thrift store, while the other dealer may have purchased the book from a collector who would only let it go for a significant price. They typically aren’t worth much; however, some book clubs published fine books from high-quality materials that can be quite valuable. Examples include books by The Limited Editions Club and The Book Club of California. The good news is that book collectors have interests as diverse as books themselves. If a book catches your eye for any reason, it might be something other people are on the hunt for. Like many ineffable things we assign value to, like art or antiques, trends can drive what is considered collectible.

Some simply needed recycling (it’s okay to recycle books, I promise). Still, there were plenty of interesting items that passed through my hands. I once dealt with a lot of Best in Children’s Books, a hardcover series from the 1950s and 1960s. The books offered short stories, excerpts from longer works, factoids, and games to play. The hardcover volumes had their dust jackets and seemed in rather nice condition to my admittedly amateur eye. The honest truth is that for most books, their value is primarily sentimental. If a financial shortcoming necessitates the selling of one’s belongings, there’s certainly no shame in that.

Price comparison website AddALL has a rare and out-of-print books search, which you may find useful. If you know your book is very rare, you may consider searching for it at The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America , or in AbeBooks’ rare book section. After authors have become firmly established, publishers often take advantage of their success by putting out collected editions of their works. These editions are often fancy and may even be limited, but they are seldom rare. Most frequently, collected editions were prepared without the author’s immediate attention and consequently have little textual importance.

Can You Guess Which First Edition Cover The Image Above Comes From?

Every book had a first printing, but not all of them are worth a fortune. After you determine that you indeed have a first edition in your possession, then you have to research the potential value. When examining a book, take note that the publisher may actually state the words “first edition” or “first printing” on the copyright page. Another method of identification used since World War II is the number line. This equates to a line of numbers on the copyright page. Most of the time if the numeral one is found in the line of numbers, then the book is a first edition.

Those of you with niche books should consider contacting a specialist with the ABAA. Someone who works closely with, say, art nouveau journals, may be able to give you a more accurate estimate on your great-grandmother’s French poster books than a general appraiser would. Even if they do not personally appraise items — as some booksellers do not, for ethical reasons — specialists will almost certainly be willing how to determine value of old books to give you the contact information of a trusted appraiser. Whether you want to sell books, insure your collection, or are just curious about the total value of your home library, there are plenty of resources online to help you find out how much your books are worth. Here are three easy ways to appraise the paper products in your life. Don’t discount the odds of coming across an extremely valuable book.

Find An Appraiser

Other appraisers could be much more specialized, focusing on a particular type of rare book. For example, if the book’s author, a famous person, and a notable person sign the book, it will make the book rarer. Aside from that, it becomes more valuable than an unsigned copy of the book. This is true of old books published before 1900 when authors did not frequently sign books. Have your book formally appraised by a qualified expert. If you desire tax incentives or insurance coverage for your book, you’ll need to get a formal appraisal. Appraisals can be done by a certified book appraiser or informally by a dealer in second-hand or rare books.

how to determine value of old books

Finally, the last element in establishing a book’s value is demand. A book without demand is unsaleable regardless of condition or rarity. Oftentimes, only a rare book specialist has the resources and knows the business well enough to gauge the demand of a particular book. If you are having difficulty understanding some of the terms used by rare booksellers, refer to our glossary, which also includes a guide to used book conditions and book sizes. While we cannot make legal appraisals, we do offer free evaluations for rare books, and can make immediate cash offers if you wish to consider selling them. The most common reason to get a book or book collection appraised is to get an official determination of the fair market replacement value of the books. You might need an appraisal to insure a rare book or book collection, or to help with inheritance issues or for determining the value for a charitable donation.

Can You Judge Valuable Old Books By The Cover?

However, the fine condition/in near fine are highly rare. Since the book was published in 1925, there have been more than 25 million copies sold. For instance, most students in high school learn about Charles Darwin and may read his On the Origin of Species. The book is available in paperback for a few dollars and can be found as a free public domain e-book. The book is important to humanity’s understanding of the science of evolution and will be in demand well into the future.

After years of accumulating titles, the Bailey-Gregoire attic is booked up – Bemidji Pioneer

After years of accumulating titles, the Bailey-Gregoire attic is booked up.

Posted: Mon, 27 Dec 2021 06:00:00 GMT [source]

You will want experienced guidance to ensure you’re staying above board. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 122,006 times. Handle your book with clean and dry hands to avoid transferring any dirt and skin oils to the pages or covers. If you don’t see many results for your exact copy, this may either be due to its limited popularity or its scarcity.

First Editions

A damaged or incomplete copy of a book can go for far less money than the same book in good condition. This is a special guest article by Adam Weinberger of, a book dealer with over 30 years of experience. This tells you how many libraries hold the book in question, and is sometimes an indicator of scarcity. Pamela is an antique expert and the author of three books on antique collection and appraising. Some companies will group certain books together, others will separate the hardcovers and series from the common everyday books and price them individually.

  • In simple terms, a book achieves some degree of rarity only when the demand for it is greater than the supply.
  • Hold your book firmly closed and gently run the vacuum over the text block edges directionally away from the spine.
  • I am trying to determine the worth of a complete collection of the works of Edward Bulwer Lytton.
  • The sellers on offer for sale new, used, rare and out-of-print books, and we have millions of used and rare books available for purchase.
  • If you are looking to find who buys old books, Bookscouter can also help with this.
  • Short of waiting for “Antiques Roadshow” to come to town, you can start by understanding the qualities and attributes of truly rare and valuable books.

In the case of most 20th and 21st century books, the condition and printing may be all you need before heading to a book buyer. In many cases, determining whether a book is a first edition is far from straightforward. There are a few other factors that can quickly rule out a book as a true first edition. Your best option in determining a first edition is to look up the book you are evaluating to find examples of a first edition copyright page. The value of a book will increase significantly if it is a first edition, particularly if it is also a first printing. Conversely, second printings and later tend to have much lower values. A copy of Betty Friedan’s 1963 trail-blazingThe Feminine Mystiquefeatured hand-written, inspiring sentiments about the cause.

Finding A Home For Your Book

That said, I am not a professional grader–so when you have it looked at, I would ask how they would grade the book. It is probably fair, but they can give you a better guide than I can. They can also see and smell it–smell has a huge impact on condition as even a whiff of mildew or “basement” smell can take a thousand dollar book into the low hundreds very quickly. My best suggestion when there is something with such wide values and so many options on what the covers look like, is to take it to a few places who specialize in old books and ask. I would go in asking if you need to insure it and if so, how much.

Books are often rare because of a small printing due to its lack of importance. If you’re listing your book for sale online, be sure to clearly describe and/or photograph all signs of damage. Be truthful in your assessment and don’t over-exaggerate the quality of your copy.

Book Cleaning

Between our decades of experience in the book trade and our large reference library, we can usually tell roughly how much a particular book has appreciated in value over time . Often these numbers compare favorably to the stock market and the rate of inflation. But as with any asset, collectible or otherwise, past market conditions are no guarantee of future performance. Putting a facsimile dustjacket on a book may make it look prettier, but it adds no additional value in the eyes of any professional dealer. In fact, the presence of a facsimile jacket in a collection calls the authenticity of all the jackets in that collection into question.

What is the difference between archaeologists and antiquarians?

An antiquarian or antiquary (from the Latin: antiquarius, meaning pertaining to ancient times) is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. … “Archaeology”, from 1607 onwards, initially meant what is now seen as “ancient history” generally, with the narrower modern sense first seen in 1837.

If the book is a hardcover and has a dust jacket then tick the relevant box. Let’s say, for instance, that your book was at one point owned by a famous artist or an important politician. Perhaps it was inscribed by the author to his or her sibling or parent. Those would be examples of interesting provenances and could make your book more appealing to a collector.

But it’s worth a pause if you love books, especially if the book in question belonged to a loved one. When someone appraises a book for you, they will not offer to buy it from you. That’s an ethical guideline and not necessarily a legal one. If you think about the power the appraiser has to potentially deceive you, it’s clear why. If you wish to sell a book after the appraisal, find another bookseller who will give you a fair price. Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you’ll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

Does Amazon sell counterfeit books?

Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products.

If it’s only a small cut, then probably not, unless there was something notable about the price or the dust cover itself. A famous title, the work of a well-known author, or a book about a popular subject may be more valuable due to popularity or less valuable due to oversaturation in the market.

Finally, and more particularly with books published post-1900, there may be a variety of editions, printings, and states of a particular book. As a general matter, a book is likely to be of more value the closer it is to a first edition, first printing; the further from that, the less likely it is of value. If more people want or are interested in that book for whatever reason, yet not many copies are available, the price can be high to buy one. On the other hand, if there are a lot of copies, the price may be lower. Old books with unique qualities, such as first editions, author signatures, aged but in good condition, etc., will sell for more. If people become less interested in the book, the price will drop as the number of people fighting over the copies will drop.

  • PBA Galleries also offers an online appraisal tool called BiblioBot that can be used to estimate market values of hardcover books.
  • If a book proves popular, the edition may be reprinted from the same setting of type, with no or minimal changes.
  • They can also see and smell it–smell has a huge impact on condition as even a whiff of mildew or “basement” smell can take a thousand dollar book into the low hundreds very quickly.
  • This information should come from the title page, not from the binding or dust-jacket.
  •’s How to Find the Value of Books page provides advice and resources on the value and pricing of books.
  • All need to be authenticated before a positive statement of association can be made.

In the next section, we’ll explain how to grade a book from “as new” to “poor” and everything in between. Again, while condition is not everything, and demand and rarity are also necessary, fine condition books certainly maintain a handsome premium. Unfortunately, the vast majority of books have little to no value to collectors. While certain books used to be scarce regionally, with the ease of purchasing books nationally and internationally on the internet, the lower-end of the book market has seen a race to the bottom price-wise. Refer to the book’s title page and copyright page for key information. Make note of the full title of the publication and the author’s name. Then look for the imprint details, namely the publisher’s name and the city and date of publication, as well the copyright registration date.

how to determine value of old books

The biggest gain from dealing with a potentially rare book may be knowledge, and that’s never a bad thing. I’ve had a few professional and volunteer experiences wherein I processed donated books.

Another factor that can affect the value of antique books is the edition number. First editions are more valuable in general than other editions, but even first editions can be less valuable if there are many of them. Some of the most valuable first editions are part of a small printing or editions that were printed before an author became popular.

For bookdealers, go to the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America to find Booksellers and search by state, region or speciality. The ABAA membership directory is also available in print, with geographical and subject indexes. To determine the publication history of the work and where your book fits into it, you can consult catalog resources and author/subject bibliographies. Some of these are accessible on the Internet while others are available only in print at public or academic libraries. Whether you are looking to sell books from your own collection or from a collection you have acquired, determining the value of books can be a challenging and tedious task. However, there are steps you can follow to make the process easier and possibly make a good deal of money from your collection. Here are the best places to sell any used book for the most moneyIf your book isn’t particularly valuable, you can either keep it to enjoy or get rid of it.

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