Thursday, May 1, 2008

Buying & Selling Old Books

Books both old and new are highly collectible for many people. A large majority of people just have a love of reading while other's love to read but they also buy books as an investment. There are a variety of authors and subjects and most people who enjoy reading have their favorites. Old books are not always valuable, there are many old books that are literally worthless and many newer books that are worth quite a bit more now than when they came out a few years ago. The key to finding out which is which is to do a little research, especially if you are planning on selling for a profit or buying at deep discounts.
We have picked up some great buys at auctions but I always end up with lots of worthless books. There are only a few if any valuable books in a box when I buy them by the box load. Don’t get me wrong, I always make money on book lots but it’s not always a lot and this method of buying isn’t for everyone. Another really bad thing about buying books by the box load is they are heavy to carry, so keep in mind it might just be easier to buy books at an auction one at a time. You might pay a little more for one but you won’t have to figure out how to carry them and where to store or dispose of the ones that don’t sell.
Rather you are buying for your own collection or buying to sell be sure to buy books in very good condition. There is a rating system for books that I like to stick to. Fine condition is the best, these books are perfect as the day they came out. Near-fine books are in near-perfect condition, with the barest of wear to the covers or dust jackets. Very good shows some wear but the pages can’t be torn, the binding must be good and the dust jacket has to be present. Good condition books are average, there may be small tears or small stains but all the pages are intact. Books in poor condition will have major defects.
When selling it is wise to list everything possibly wrong with a book. When buying you will want to know all possible problems as well. Was it a previous library book, does it have various stamps, owner names, inscriptions, stains, rips, uneven pages. Is the dust cover missing or showing any defects? Are the pages yellowed? Is it a book club addition? Any of these things can take the value down.
As always I find the best place to do research on any item I’m interested in is eBay. I own several Huxford Old Book Value Guides. The last one I personally bought was in 2001. While the guide is full of values on a variety of books I never could get close to getting the value that was listed in the book. Ebay has such a competition in their book category, I’m just amazed at how many good books you can get for 99 cents on eBay. Of course if you do get one for a buck inquire about shipping charges before you buy. I notice a lot of the sellers are not trying to make money on their products anymore but on the shipping and handling charges.
I have found that old books with artist plates bring big bucks, we sold one last year for $400, and it was an antique book from the 1800’s. A child’s bedtime story book, I forget the name of the author and the title but it was from Norway and it has several colored plates inside. We only gave a couple of bucks for the whole box of books it came in so you see it is well worth the time to research box loads of books if one will bring that kind of money.

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