Old Books — What to Look For When Collecting

Written by on April 20, 2012 in Antique, Books, Collectibles with 2 Comments

There is nothing better than sitting down with a cup or coffee (or tea) and a book. I can sit for hours on a cold winter evening by the fireplace with my legs wrapped in an afghan and get lost in the world the author has created. I love it when I find an old mystery book at antique malls and booths.

The legendary authors of mystery like Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe and Ellery Queen (my mon loved that TV series in the 1970′s) are masters at their craft — mysteries.

Collecting Old Books

If you are interested in collecting old books Old Books    What to Look For When Collecting or just enjoy finding titles you haven’t yet read — an antique booth or mall is a great place to look. Most books aren’t that expensive — unless you run across a first edition by a famous author. But, if you want some tips about what to look for that can make a book more valuable, check out this list I got from a family member that collects books.

  • As mentioned above, a first edition of a book is the collectible version. Re-prints rarely collectible but definitely enjoyable! Older books that are first editions usually use the words — first edition, first printing, first published. If there is a number line on the copyright page, should contain the number “1″ to indicate a first edition. There are a lot of resources on the internet to help you determine if the old book is a first edition. This short video put out by AbeBooks.com is very helpful -
0 Old Books    What to Look For When Collecting
  • An author’s first book is usually the most valuable. Why? Because they had to prove themselves, usually there is a smaller print run then a second run if the first sells through. So, the oldest books of the author (first edition books) are the most sought after.
  • most people that are serious about collecting books know this but I’m gonna say it anyway: hard cover books are the most valuable. Paperbacks are reprints of the hard cover books and are much less valuable.
  • Did you know that books from the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery genres (fiction) are some of the most valuable? Sticking with these genres for a collection may make it harder to find collectible books but they are worth the treasure hunt!
  • You can find collectible old books in a lot of different places — not just book stores. Try eBay, antique and vintage booths and shoppes, flea markets, tag/yard sales and thrift stores. Just be on the look out. Sometimes sellers have not idea what they really have and you can get a collectible book at a bargain price.
Stay tuned! Our next post will be concerning collecting more modern-times writers!


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  1. Susan says:

    What a great how-to for starting up a collecting hobby. Old books make for fun reading, too. Looking forward to your next post as well.

  2. Susan V says:

    Very interesting article you can also find great collectable books on etsy.com.

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