Rare Book Values

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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Rare book dealers often spend a substantial amount of their resources on assessing the value of books they are buying or selling. There are several key factors that have a significant impact of the value of any rare book, and knowing what they are may be of real help when you're in the market yourself. A rare book's value is based on the age of the book, its condition, the number of such books that are known to be in existence, and the market for the book.

Rare book values are a compilation of all of the above factors. Obviously, what makes a book rare is that there are very few known copies available. The older the book the less likely there are to be a significant number of copies out there, and there is less of a chance that more will be found. Some books are so old and rare that condition becomes less of a factor, but, in most cases, condition is a key factor, and a book in fine condition will bring in a much higher price than one that is in good condition only.

Finding Rare Book Values

The best resource for an appraisal of a rare book is an experienced rare book dealer. The dealer will first assess the condition of the book and will then address the other issues before calculating the book's value. Most dealers, whether in a store or online, will charge for an appraisal, so find out what the appraisal cost will be before you commit to the process.

You should also know that rare book prices change fairly often due to the unusual circumstances in which the entire field operates. "New" rare books are found in some very strange places, and these finds occur fairly frequently. On the other hand, some rare books are in such demand that anyone willing to sell one can ask whatever the market will bear, so the price can rise dramatically with one or two exchanges. Again, your best bet for accurate information is a rare book dealer.


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