Collecting Antique Books

printing pressThe 21st century has been a game changer in how books are distributed. Since Gutensburg’s printing press revolutionized the written word way back in 1450, pages have been printed on various kinds of paper and bound in plenty of different cover materials, but have more or less maintained a recognizable book form. The 19th and 20th centuries saw innovations in printing techniques, along with the rise of paperbacks, but the recent surge of mobile electronic devices has led to the proliferation e-books. But for many, new digital developments have only heightened the allure of hard copies of books, especially antique books.

There’s just something about that old book smell, something about pondering all the hands a book has passed through and places its been, that make these antique books so desirable. While collecting antique books for personal fulfillment is certainly an enriching experience, there’s also money to be made. “Book hounds” can make a pretty penny by sniffing out the antique books that can be of great value to other collectors, as antiques are often undervalued by their owners who simply haven’t done their homework. Ironically, the rise of the Internet and ubiquity of mobile devices can actually help antique book collectors more conveniently seek out quality purchases and find buyers for these often overlooked treasures, while turning a tidy profit in the meantime.

antique booksHowever, old doesn’t automatically equal antique. Plenty of old books are monetarily worthless. And just because an author or a particular book may be popular, doesn’t mean older copies of her books are considered valuable antiques. It’s important to find out whether a book is a first edition or if the book is a lesser known work by a famous author or one that was published prior to the author’s rise to fame.

While it’s always beneficial to keep an eye out for first editions, it’s also important to note that many successful or classic books also received more than one printing during their first edition run. For instance, a first printing copy of J.D. Salinger’s seminal novel The Catcher in the Rye could be worth $5,000 or more if in excellent condition, but a second or third printing from the first edition is only worth $100-$300.

And of course, as with any antique, the condition of the book plays a large factor in its value. If a hardbound book comes with its original dust jacket in good condition, the value of the book is greatly increased. Sometimes, the value of an antique is increased due to even more obscure reasons. A first edition, first printing of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham can be worth around $300 in good condition, but if it includes the rare 50-word vocabulary sticker on its cover, the value skyrockets to upwards of $4000.

So whether you want to collect antique books for the satisfaction of owning a piece of history, monetary gain through savvy purchases and subsequent sales, or for a family heirloom, these books are out there a flea markets, used book stores, rummage sales, thrift shops, and of course online. You simply have to do your homework and know what to look for.

Find Rare & Collectible Books Online

Find books online and compare prices between stores

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!