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Humanities Department Collection and State Library Resources
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How Much Is My Old Book Worth?

Ever wonder how much your old books are worth? The Humanities Department has resources to help you find out. Here are some ideas for how to look up your items. Remember, if this is not enough information, your local library will be more than happy to help you.

Old Book Stack

Web Sites

Used and rare bookseller Web sites that bring together sellers’ prices:

Addall - Click on the Used Books tab at the top and fill out the form; use Keyword for publisher and date

The Advanced Book Exchange - Fill out the form on the top page.

Bookfinder - Fill out the advanced option form

ComicPriceGuide - Register free to see prices.

Remember - Prices you find on bookseller Web sites include the dealer’s markup. They will charge the buyer more than they will offer the seller!

Other helpful Web sites:

Determining Book Condition - A video with examples.

Your Old Books - lists questions and answers about book collecting

Firsts: The Book Collector’s Magazine - “The Fundamentals of Book Collecting,”

Internet Public Library - Many more links to follow!

Rare Books organizations:



Let’s get started!

 

You have your book in hand. First take note of this important information:

  • What is the condition of the book
  • What is a first edition, and is this one?
    • A first edition is the first time a book is printed by a publisher.
    • Not all first editions say the words “First Edition” on the title page.
    • Your book is probably not a first edition if:
      • There is more than one publication date
      • The word “printing” appears with the publishing information, for example “2nd Printing.”
      • A series of numbers such as “2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.” The lowest number in the series shows which printing it is.)
  • Who is the author of the book?
  • What is the full title?
  • When was it published?
    • The date might be on the back of the title page
    • Is there more than one date?
    • Does the date say “copyright,” “reprint,” or “edition?” 
  • Who is the publisher?
    • More than one publisher can publish the same book.
    • There can be American and English editions by different publishers.
    • When a book is no longer under copyright, any one can publish it.
    • The exact name of the publisher is important, if there is no date on the book.

You have all your information noted and are ready to start your search!

Books about books!

Don’t forget that there are excellent paper resources as well!

  • The Bookman’s Price Index, lists what books have sold for at auction in America and the United Kingdom.
  • A Gentle Madness by Nicholas Basbanes, an introduction to book collecting by someone who shares the “gentle madness.”
  • Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry, the author of Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, and other popular books, explains his true calling as a book collector and antiquarian bookseller.
  • Handbook for Booklovers by Joseph LeFontaine contains a glossary, history, and information about the first editions of many American and British books.

Remember: While this information and the information that librarians can give you is helpful and valuable, to determine the true market value of a book, or any other collectible item, an appraisal may be necessary.

Ask Us

If you have an old book that you would like us to research, or if you have any other questions regarding old books, e-mail us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, or contact your local library. You can also mail your questions to:

Humanities Department
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

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