UPDATE: This is another one of my most popular posts that I’m updating and re-blogging. It’s one that I often send people to because the question comes up frequently. A few old books appraised for a lot of money on shows like the Antique Roadshow and Pawn Stars and now people think every book is that valuable. Added to that the general trend in our culture to still value books, it’s hard to believe that old ones aren’t worth money to somebody. I hope that my advice in this post has been of help and while I don’t really have an update, I can say that the likelihood of any particular book being worth money has decreased since I originally published this due to three years of economic conditions that has convinced a lot of people to stop adding big ticket items to their collections. That doesn’t mean buying has stopped, but it has driven people out of the market and a smaller market for anything means that even those who still want to buy something expect to pay less for it. Hopefully this trend will change, but it’s a bad time to be trying to sell collectibles and it’s hard to know when the market for them will recover.
A question that patrons ask librarians a lot is “What is the value of this old book?” or “What can I get for selling this book?” Here’s a version of my standard response.
Normally what I’d suggest as a first line of effort is to check with the titles through Amazon or Alibris or Abebooks. In most cases old books aren’t worth a lot a money, a few dollars at most. The exceptions are the ones book collectors want (which in all but the rarest circumstances have to be in nearly pristine condition and a true first edition or signed by someone very famous and long dead) or the ones that are somehow related to what someone collects (I mean they don’t collect books as objects, in and of themselves, but because they collect something an author, a celebrity, World’s Fairs, coin banks, soap operas, etc. that has some connection to particular books) , or that the…
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