This guide addresses some frequently asked questions about rare and older books and their values. The answers are meant only as general responses to these questions, and many possible exceptions are not described. No attempt has been made to identify or to evaluate individual books, nor does RBMS have the resources to respond to such requests. The appendix lists online and print resources for more information on the questions covered.
1. What makes a book rare?
2. What makes a book important?
3. Does scarcity increase a book’s value?
4. Are all old books valuable?
5. What is the difference between a rare book and a second-hand book?
6. What is meant by a book’s condition, and how does that affect a book’s value?
7. Where are rare books found?
8. What kinds of books are usually not rare?
9. What is the difference between a first and a limited edition?
10. Is a book signed or marked up by a previous owner, or autographed by the author, more valuable?
11. Are old letters, scrapbooks, photographs, and documents valuable?
12. Might someone want my single volume to complete a set?
13. How can I keep my books in good condition?
14. Should I have my books rebound?
15. Do I need to insure my books?
16. How do I describe my books?
17. Should I have my books appraised?
18. Where can I find an appraiser?
19. How can I sell my books?
20. How can I ascertain a fair price?
21. Can I sell or give my old books to a library?
22. Who else might accept my old books as a donation?
23. Where can I go for more information on old and rare books, book collecting, and evaluating books?