Buying Rare Books Online

rare-booksWhat makes a book valuable and rare? The rarest books are pursued with the passion of a collector, or the book lover who wants to personalize a memory. There is a certain status in owning a first-edition of a classic like Charles Dickens‘ A Tale Of Two Cities from 1859. Or the book may be treasured because the author has signed a copy and made personal notes in the cover. It all comes down to supply and demand. It may be that the value of a book relates to the historical period when it was written. It may be that renewed interest in the Russian Revolution of 1917 may make books from that time collectible. or in some instances only a few copies of a book exist and so the books are valuable because they are scarce. Other books are rare and highly-prized simply because of their age.

In the world of collecting books, antique books can go back to the beginning. Johannes Gutenberg developed the moveable-type printing of books in the 1440’s with the popularized copies of the Bible. A Gutenberg Bible printed in 1456, for example, would be extremely valuable and only offered at the most prestigious, in-person auction. For most of us, however, we may be on the hunt for a rare book that is important only to us or to a family member. Our Grandmother may fondly remember a children’s picture book that she had growing up. The book may be out-of-print but it may be worthwhile to buy it as a thoughtful gift.

Our Used Book Search is a great way to find rare books online. It is an easy-to-use portal on the internet to find these valuable books. Rare and out-of-print books may not be carried at traditional, brick and mortar bookstores in your area, or their custom-ordering fee may be too high. A rare book collector can shop through the internet to find the best price and book condition when considering a purchase, or at least a bid.

An antique book’s condition may be the most important part of the purchase if the goal is to preserve it in a private library. You will find the most detailed description for the most-treasured book. Detailed photographs and multiple paragraphs of text can be reassuring when buying an antique book without seeing it first. The more research you can do on a book, the more confident you can feel in making a secure purchase. After performing your search, click on “read more about this book” link next to the book which takes your fancy, for product dimensions, number of pages and other detailed information that can help you decide whether to make a purchase.

Once you have decided that the book you want is indeed the one being listed, then you can compare prices from the different book sellers, such as AbeBooks, Amazon or Alibris, using the ‘compare prices for this book’ button. Sometimes will lead you to a unique seller that has a geographical connection to the author of the rare book. We hope that we can help you find that allusive, soon to be treasured unique and rare book!

Where now for Used Book Sellers?

book sellersThe traditional high street bookshop is fast disappearing and so what does the future hold for the professional bookseller? The move towards the internet has been massive but competition is ferocious and margins have gotten tighter and tighter. Who will survive and in what form?

There will always be a place for bookstores, albeit a smaller and smaller one. The internet cannot provide for the casual browser who loves the smell and feel of that dusty cosy book filled haven from the real world. Rare books, collectors items, first editions you need to see them and haggle with the owner over the price. This used to be the only way to buy a used book, but we all know that book buying has exploded onto the internet in the guise of Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris et al. This is definitely the future, at least for the volume trading of cheap, mass produced novels, textbooks, reference books, manuals, literature etc. etc. etc.

Most bookstores survive by adding their inventory to the database of these big book listing services but the trend is relentlessly moving away from the costly main street premises to the relatively cheap shop window of the internet where the biggest cost is often shipping.

I remember from my school economics that the ‘perfect market’ was when everyone knew the price that everyone else was selling for. This theoretical market is now a reality and book comparison sites and book search engines like instantly give the best price and location for any given book criteria. It has gotten so competitive in the used book market that paperback novels are selling for 1 cent and any profit is contained in the shipping charge. Herein lies the future where no dealer can afford to rent a shop, cannot afford the cost of any storage area, cannot even afford to employ staff because the profit margin is so small on every single book, just to make a sale.

The most efficient means of delivering the written word is electronically. And with the amazon kindleaffordability of the kindle, what started off as the choice of a few tech savvy people, the reading of ebooks is now a common sight, especially when people are travelling. That being said, many people would still rather print read from paper rather than read it exclusively from the screen and ebooks are generally a lot more expensive than their physical counterparts. In part this is because VAT is charged on ebooks and not on physical books. But what will happen if and when this glitch in the tax system is ironed out? For the moment though, it seems like there may be too much risk of an outcry if they suddenly put this tax onto physical books, and it looks like they would be reluctant to take away this revenue earner from ebooks.

Although us physical book lovers may like to think that price isn’t the main factor of importance in the physical vs ebook debate, in reality it is playing a big driving factor. Part of the cost of a book stems from having a middle man. Sites such as Amazon and Ebay have driven down the cost of books considerably, due to the absence of a need for a brick and mortar business. However, at the end of the day, they are still middle men. Is the future of book selling a scenario whereby the middle man is cut out or at least cut down further? The success of ‘50 shades of grey‘  clearly demonstrates the recent rise to power of self-publishing. If we can cut out publishing houses, can we cut out book selling sites as well? Maybe with some form of automated system  that enables a book to move directly from the writer to the customer.

Whatever the future world of book selling online looks like, one thing is for sure. The current generation uses pen and paper dramatically less then earlier generations, they spend considerably more time in front of screens, and are much more digitally aware. There may still be a balance between the physical book and ebooks at the moment. But if the price of ebooks is driven downwards with changes to taxes or a further cut to middle men, then it is bound to decrease the size of the physical book market further. Although maybe this will just serve to make rare and used books more of a niche market, for avid fans and collectors. Hence, there will be fewer people buying used books, but the price per item will be far higher.