ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Become a Book Hound: Collecting Antique Books

Updated on April 25, 2022
Jerry G2 profile image

Shane has always loved history in all forms - old books, antiques, histories, sites and more. If it's old and collectible he's interested.

Love Antique Books? Become a Book Hound

Antique Book collecting, or book hounding, as it is also known (hence the term "book hounds"), is an increasingly popular hobby/passion. There are a lot of great reference materials on antique books, and becoming a book hound is something that anyone can learn how to become by using reference books and looking around for online resources.

This might sound intimidating to some people, but it actually is not difficult to learn how to become a book hound, and there are many really good books, carefully illustrated, that can teach you step by step everything you need to know about identifying, locating, buying, and selling antique books...or maybe keeping a few personal favorites off to the side.

Antique Book Fair: Where Book Hounds and Antique Book Sellers Meet

Finding Valuable Antique Books While Book Hounding

Local auctions, flea markets, book fairs, antique book stores, and even eBay are all places where there are opportunities to find valuable books being sold well under value and buy them only to turn around and sell them for a tidy profit.

I've been an amateur book hound for about three years now, as this was a natural hobby for me since it combined an interest of antiques (I'm from a family of "Antique Roadshow" fans and pack rats), literature, and history.

A major part of my interest came ironically because I mistook Sinclair Lewis for Upton Sinclair when studying for a college course.

After finding some cheap Sinclair Lewis novels, and realizing one I bought for $2 at a garage sale was actually worth $300 or thereabouts, I was hooked. For me being a book hound is a hobby, but even though it's "only" a hobby, that doesn't make me any less passionate about finding great books to collect.

Antique books are amazing, and just the feel, the paper, the smell of a book from the 1920's is amazing.

Antique book collecting is a great hobby, and one that can occasionally be very lucrative as well. I once bought a true 1st edition of Sinclair Lewis's The Innocents for $50 from eBay, it was in very good condition, and I turned around and sold it for $785 plus shipping. That was my best sale to date, but you can believe I always keep my eyes open as I continue with antique book collecting.

Book Collecting: How to Identify True First Editions

Book Hounds Know: Antique Books Vs. Old Books

If you're interested in collecting antique books and joining the legions of book hounds out there, one of the first things you will need to learn is the difference between old books and antique books.

Not every old book is going to be worth something. There are many books from around 1900 that aren't worth anything, even if they are uncommon. On the other hand, there are paperbacks from the 1960s an 1970s that are worth a couple hundred bucks each (see Richard Bachman, or one of Dean Koontz's dozen pennames).

When collecting antique books, the popularity of the author or the book does make a difference in how much it is worth. This is in addition to how many copies of a book are estimated to be left.

Many great collectible books, especially the most valuable, are first editions of books by famous authors that were written before the author became famous. This is why books like Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway are great first edition books, but worth far less than nearly unheard of early books by these authors like:

  • Hike and the Aeroplane
  • Cup of Gold
  • In Our Time

These latter three books are worth $12,000-$60,000 for true first editions, in strong part due to the fact that these were some of the earliest works by these authors who were all unknown at the time, so not only are they by famous authors, but they're rare, as well. It's that combination that makes antiquarian book collecting profitable.

Book Hounds: Learn to Identify Condition of Antique Books

Collecting Books: How to Get Started as a Book Hound

The good news is that if you love antique books, or old things of any kind, it's not hard to get started as a book hound. It doesn't take classes or schooling, though if you have a mentor, by all means take advantage of that situation. There are several first steps you will want to take to get started as a book hound. First of all:

  • Get some resource books. There is a lot of great information to study online, and by all means, study it, but you will want to start building a library of resources to have on hand.
  • Start attending local events. Get used to looking for deals. Visit used book stores, small town auctions, real estate auctions, garage sales, or library book sales. Make scanning books a second nature instinct.
  • Find some "starter authors." By this I mean find some collectible books that are first editions and valuable, but cheaper. Sinclair Lewis was a good one for me, because there were a lot of good books in the $40-$100 range and I could learn my craft.
  • Have a Sales Plan. Early on your major goal might be just to collect books for a couple years, or you may want to get some returns early. You can get income by opening an online bookstore at or by selling the books to ABAA dealers. Have at least a basic idea of your plan, even if it is general like, "Collect books for two years then open online store."

These are some of the first and most basic steps in learning how to collect antique books and learning to become a book hound. Familiarize yourself with the ABAA, as they are as close to a "governing body" as there is in the world of antique books. If your final goal is opening a large antique book store, you will want to be affiliated with this group.

Being a book hound can be an extremely rewarding experience, and it really opens your eyes to the many valuable items out there that many people aren't even aware of. If you love books, history, antiques, or any combination of these three (or if you're just a good old fashioned pack rat), then this hobby and passion might be for you.

Whatever the reasons, I strongly recommend to anyone looking to get started to buy a few good price and identification guides and start to collect old books today!

Book Collecting Guides

Book Finds: How to Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books
Book Finds: How to Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books
There are many great book value resources and this is an excellent starter. Stay in the hobby long enough you'll have an entire library, but this is a great starting book to get started.

© 2008 Shane Dayton


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)