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How to Research the Value of Used Books

Category Books

Finding the retail value of any book used to be a time consuming task with trips to book stores, libraries, and antique shops. But, the Internet has made the process so much easier. You can completely determine the value of a book with just a little research. If you've never researched a book value before then these instructions will be a tremendous help.

Book Information

Write down all the information that you see written on the title page of the book. This includes the book title, author's name,publishers name,illustrators name,the copyright date, and the ISBN number , if there is one. Many copyright dates are written in Roman numerals, so you may have to try to remember what Roman numerals are, if you've forgotten them.

Also include the number of pages in the book and note whether it is a hard back regular book or a paperback copy. Yo will also want to describe the binding. Is it cloth or paper? Does it have a dust jacket? What color is it? What color is the printing on the book and spine of the book. Make a note of any damage to the book pages or binding. Are any names written? Is it signed by the author? Do any of the pages have writing or scribbling on them? Are there any stains or marks that were not part of the original book?

All of these items should be noted in your book description. If it seems like a lot of information , it is, but I've included a brief dictionary of the most commonly used abbreviations and terms at the end of this article.

Searching On line

Go on the Internet to bookfinder or amazon and put in the authors name and the title of the book. This will bring up a listing of all available copies. There may be different versions by different publishers and it may be in different languages. Find the listing that exactly matches the book you have. If the book has an ISBN number, you can also search for it by that number. ISBN numbers were not assigned until the mid 1960s , so books printed before then will not have a number and you will have to compare descriptions more to identify the book.

The listing should begin with a lower price and increase to a higher price at the end of the listings. If there are lots of copies of a particular book the value will be less. If you cannot find the book, it means either that there were so many available that no one has bothered to list it or that no one has a copy for sale.

If you don't find it, go to some of the on line shops that sell rare books and check for it there.

Increased Value

Books by famous people or well known authors will have greater value ,as will books from which movies were made. However, a book does not have to be old to be valuable or have collector value. For example Harry Potter, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz , among many others,have books published in the 90s that have much higher values than newer or older writers.

Books signed by the author also carry a higher price.

Profusely illustrated books or ones with lots of photos usually demand higher prices.

Decreased Value

There are many things that will cause a book to lose collectible value. The main one being books that are written or scribbled in. A problem with the older books is that the pages have started turning brown and may be somewhat brittle.This is referred to as "page browning or foxing". The corners of the binding may be bent, which is indicated in the description as "corner bumped". Spots and stains also lessen the value as well as the previous owners name written in the front of the book.

You will sometimes see a glued in bookplate with the owners name or a gift inscription. The lesser of the two evils would be the bookplate.

There are also many books that are book club editions, indicated by the letters"BCE" in a description, that may lessen the value unless the buyer is a collector and the book is one he /she has not been able to find.

If you are contemplating selling your books, do not put your price beneath the lowest price being asked. Try to put your listing somewhere above the lowest price so you will not unintentionally lower the price of the book for all sellers.

The Library of Congress Catalog

The final step in looking for a book which just doesn't seem to be any where, is to check the Library of Congress catalog. This catalog lists almost every book that has been published or assigned an ISBN number. Information on this catalog can be accessed on line.

Here is a simple dictionary of common abbreviations and terms used by sellers and collectors in describing books.

This may be referred to as Bibliophile Jargon !

Ill or the letters"ill, will indicate the illustrators name

Bibelot, refers to an unusually small size book.

Bibliophile, refers to someone who is crazy about collecting books, rare ones in particular.

Hard back,means that it is a regular hard bound board binding book.

Soft Cover, This can also indicate a paper back, but it usually means a little harder cover than a regular paper back.

Fly Leaves, are the blank pages found at the beginning and end of the book pages.

Page browning, indicates that the pages have started to brown from age.

Spotting, is also sometimes used to indicate foxing spots.

Foxing, means there are brown, reddish brown or light yellow discolorations on the pages.

PB, indicates a "paper back" binding on a book.

DJ, stands for "dust jacket", which is usually a paper book cover that preserves the binding of the book. Some books may covered in a plastic or mylar cover.

ISBN, stands for International Standard Book Number. This may be a 10 or 13 digit number. It is assigned when the book is published and indicates who, what, when and where to publishers and others in the book business. Not all books have this number as there is a fee attached. These numbers were not assigned until after the 1950's.

Copyright, will sometimes be shown as "cpr" or the copyright symbol, which is an "encircled small letter "a'.

Corners bumped, means that the corners of the binding have bent due to normal use.-

BCE, means book club edition, which is an edition of a book that was published specifically to be distributed by book clubs. It is usually marked as such.

Condition Terms

The condition of the book is very important when listing books for sale. The usual terms are: New, Like New, Good, Fair, and Acceptable. There will also be indications as to whether or not the book is a Collectible or just Used.

A book dealer or collector may be referred to as bibliophile, a bibliopole, a bibliopolist or described as bibliopolic. These words are normally used when referring to collectors or dealers who specialize in rare books or have a huge collection.

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