Collecting Rare Books
Buying and Collecting Old Books
Collecting old books is a fun hobby and can be easy and inexpensive. Scouring garage sales, poking around in thrift stores and library book sales can be very exciting, especially when you come across a rare find, there's nothing more thrilling. If you like to buy and sell books, it can also be a profitable hobby.
Antique rare books are fascinating, from their beautiful endpapers, to the dusty smell of them. Many of them have an interesting history behind them as well. Whether you collect books all by the same author, collect books on a specific subject or interest, or a group of books from a series, they'll provide you with hours of enjoyment. See more collectible books on Amazon if you love looking at old books!
How to Start Collecting
What Kind of Books to Collect
Usually people start collecting something because they love it, so it's really not necessary to set any parameters around what books you decide to collect. Just collect what you love. You can have a collection of priceless rare books or a well used collection of old books. Both can give you hours of enjoyment.
Collecting antique rare books has been made easier by the internet. It's quick and easy to find out what a books costs just by Googling it or looking it up on eBay. You don't have to worry much anymore about overpaying for a book because there is so much competition out there. Just make sure you do your homework and you'll get good value. If you are serious collector that is considering liquidating in the future you will always want to buy the highest quality of book that you can afford.
Owning a fine leather bound book that is beautifully illustrated with color lithographs is a pleasure. As long as your collection gives you satisfaction you won't regret any money spent in building your collection. When you are considering buying and selling old books for a profit you are moving into book trading which is more of a business than a hobby.
What to Look for When Purchasing Old Books
Condition is King
The overall condition of a book is the single most important quality to consider. If the pages are torn and falling out, or the cover is missing, chances are it won't be too collectible. Books are much like coins and stamps and are valued by their condition. A book that is in pristine condition will fetch much more than the same title that is damaged. Books are often graded according to condition.
For the more modern books that have a dust jacket, the dust jacket accounts for about 90% of the value of the book. For example if the inside cover is clipped where the price used to be the book drops in value by about 75%.
As a rule hardcovers are more valuable than a paperback version and first editions are many times more valuable than second or third editions. A copy that has been signed by the author can also add value.
When is a Book "Rare"?
How to Determine Rarity
A book is considered rare when it is almost impossible to find. If you are looking for a book and finding that there are many copies of it around, it is not considered a rare book. Be cautious if someone is touting a book as being rare, look around and see if you can find other copies of it so you can compare the prices. Obviously if you can't find many copies then the book truly deserves to be called rare.
Rare books aren't necessarily old since what makes a book rare is it's availability as well as it's desirability. Typically the first edition is printed in small quantities so this is the reason the first edition of books are the most valuable. Books can become rare if they become popular with collectors and the first printing was small.
Does Scarcity Increase Value?
Sometimes But Not Always
You would think that if a book is scarce that it would be worth a lot of money. Usually that is true. However if the book is scarce, but collectors and libraries aren't interested in it, then it is virtually worthless. It's the law of supply and demand. The more demand there is then the more money people are willing to pay for it.
Is Every Old Book Valuable?
Just because a book is old doesn't mean it's valuable. Value is determined by demand for the title. If no one is interested in it then the book has no value. Spend time researching to determine a book's value. Remember even if it's old and a sought after title, it's condition will play a part in it's value. A very old book, in rough condition will fetch only a few dollars, even if collectors are looking for it. Don't disregard sentimental value when collecting for yourself. If you are not looking at selling your collection then you may not be so concerned about the condition and may just be pleased that you found an unlikely treasure.
Out of Print Children's Books
What's the Difference Between a First Edition and Limited Edition?
How to Know the Difference
The very first printing of a book is called the first edition. The term edition means the total print run from the original typeset copy. If the book is a success then subsequent editions are published. Generally the first edition of a book is the most valuable.
A limited edition means the book was printed with a set number of copies. Usually this is noted within the book. Sometimes a book publisher may print a condensed version or one with a different cover and call it a limited edition. Just because it's a limited edition does not make it more valuable. Whether or not the limited edition is valuable is determined by how much demand there is for it. As a rule the first edition of a book will always be more valuable than the limited edition.
Learn more about collecting books
Evaluating the condition of books
Sellers of rare and collectible books
- Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America
An excellent site for sourcing rare and antiquarian books. The site maintains high standards of ethics and trade.
- AbeBooks - New & Used Books, New & Used Textbooks, Rare & Out of Print Books
AbeBooks sells both used, new, rare and out of print books. Find classic collectibles, rare signed editions, and used textbooks here.
It's quick and easy to find out whether a title is selling on eBay. Search in the "sold" category rather than what's for sale to determine the true market value.
Albris sells new and used books, used textbooks, rare, out-of-print books and ships worldwide.
- viaLibri ~ Rare Books - Resources for Bibliophiles, Librarians and Collectors
A site dedicated to selling old, rare and out-of-print books. Also has a handy section for storing "wants".
If you love to read and collect old books you are a bibliophile