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How much is my book worth

“How Much is My Book Worth?” 

This is a question that all book sellers dread trying to answer, while also being one of the more common questions we are asked.  As a used and secondhand bookdealer I have the upmost pleasure of having to explain this over and over again to people who are trying to sell a collection.  There are a lot of things to keep in mind when looking for a price for your “old, rare, out of print, unusual” book that has been in granny’s attic since the before sliced bread. In this article I will explain how to determine this before coming to the bookshop.

But first I will start with a joke.

   “One afternoon a man wanders into an antiquarian bookshop and notices the large collection of rare, old family bibles.

      ‘Wow. Do you really sell those things for that much?’ he asks the shopkeeper.

       ‘Yes. It is a niche market, but some of these can be worth quite a bit of money.’

       ‘I just threw out one that was in our attic forever. It was falling to bits. Printed by some company called Guttenberg.”

       ‘You had a Guttenberg Bible in your attic and just threw it away! There are only 21 complete copies in the world! It is worth a small fortune!”

        ‘Naw, you wouldn’t of wanted it. Some idiot named Martin Luther scribbled notes all over it.’ “


And that shows you the issue with determining value of books. To the one guy it was worthless because you can get bibles anywhere, so why keep one that was old and was filled with notes and underlining? To the other it was beyond value due to being extremely rare and having the notes of a famous person all over it.   One man’s trash is another’s treasure.

So here we go. You have a collection of any size or just an older book.

Is it Antiquarian or just old?

According to Regency Antique Books ” In the world of collectible antique books, “old” means OLD….  In the antique book world, the book’s age is very rarely the first priority when choosing a piece for one’s library…. [but]  Many serious and experienced antiquarian book collectors are focused on tracking down works from the 16th century and earlier.”

Another term used is Vintage These books are older than 50, but less than 100 and have some cultural and social connections. Dune, I, Robot, The Nancy Drew Books and Lord of the Rings  all fall into this category.

Now what is the condition?

As in what was the condition it was in when it was first printed and how close is it to that point?  This is  a very important thing to determine. Condition means everything in a book’s value.  Booksellers want to sell books. Nicer copies sell better. This doesn’t mean that your book is worthless if it is damaged, other factors come into play at that point.

Was it published with a dust jacket?

If no then: is the pictorial boards (cover art) damaged in any way or unclear?  The level of damage to the artwork

If yes then: does it still have it?  If your answer is no, the value of the book goes down–unless there are pictorial boards. Then the condition of the cover art comes into play.

If the answer is yes: is the dust jacket missing parts? Or can you see the artwork clearly? This will also change the value of the book.   Depending on the edition, the real draw for the book could be the artist who did the cover art.  Popular books have been reissued over time and as the copyrights for the artwork may have been expired or the publisher just wants to be more relevant to the times the art work will change. But due to the large number of copies still available (even if it is different editions) than the value of the book might not be as high.  The value then lies in the art work.   Typically the worse the condition of the dust jacket, the lower the value of the book.

Is it Signed?  By the author or another famous person?  Then it has some value, no matter the condition.

Is it a clean copy? Did some one scribble in it or leave notes in the margin?  Most of the time this will lower the value of it. Unless….1: someone important made the notes & signed their name. (And this has to be proved) 2: the notes are translations (this becomes an interest to those who are studying languages) 3: the notes are relevant to the work. (this was a text book for someone )  Once again this is a situation where the value can go either way.

Does it SMELL?  Please. Please. Please. Learn what things smell like. If it is a tobacco or smoky smell that is fine. This can be fixed to some extent, but if you open the book and your first though is outdoorsy this is a mold issue.

Technically the  rule is: the further it is from the original printing condition (within reason for age) the less value it can hold.

What Color is the book?  Sounds silly, but if you find a Victorian age book that is a vibrant emerald green  DO NOT TOUCH IT.  WASH YOUR HANDS.  TAKE  A PHOTO. USE A TOWEL TO PLACE IT IN A PLASTIC SEALABLE BAG. WASH YOUR HANDS.   Did I mention WASHING YOUR HANDS?????  Paris Green is the official name of the pigment popularly used in this period for practically everything. It is made with ARSNIC. Are all green books from this time period Paris Green? No, but it is better to be safe than sorry.  The following link is a good article on the subject.  And of course there have been many books written on this topic as well.

If you do have a book with Paris Green then it might be better to donate it to a museum who can deal with it properly as most bookdealers won’t try and sell it.  But you can always ask an antiquarian seller about it.

Who published it?  People tend to think that only mass publishing was in the 20th century dealing mainly with paperbacks. To some extent that is correct. But earlier popular books were reprinted by reprint houses like: Walter J. Black, Sun Dial, Triangle, Collier, A.L. Burt, and Grosset & Dunlop. The interior of the book will have the original publishers information, but he spine will have another publisher’s information or nothing at all. The quality of the paper will be thinner or just look a bit off, and sometimes the page count or the printing might be aligned poorly.  In this case the rarity of the title on the market will determine the value.

Is it a BOOKCLUB?  It has the correct publisher and the book looks legit, but this still could be a different book type. Bookclubs, on average, are the hardcover version of reprint editions.  There are some clues:

  • There is no price on the dust jacket.
  • The hardcovers are smaller than the normal editions, while the paperbacks are larger than normal & both feel lighter due to the thinner paper used.
  • The cover may be bound with thick paper instead of cloth and the dust jacket is uncoated and looks cheaply made.
  • There may be a blindstamp impressed into the back cover of a hardcover BCE, right next to the spine. Look for a  circle, dot, square, triangle, or even a small white dot.
  • The dust jacket flaps might have it written on them or it will be on the copywrite page.
  • There might be a strange string of numbers on the last page of the book near the margin, running vertically, just before the endpaper.

Sellers do not want book clubs. There are some exceptions to the rule (as always).  Easton Press, The First Edition Society of the Franklin Library , the Limited Editions Club, and the Book Club of California  do come out with some very well illustrated and designed editions. Science Fiction/Fantasy/and Horror titles are sometimes valuable due to the fact that some authors were published in paperback first and these book clubs became the first hardcover editions and sometimes they will contain two or more works. But it also depends on the writers.

What is the subject matter?

This matters quite a bit and is quite fluid as well. Some books are very niche, others have glutted the market and some are just not relevant any more.  If there is no audience for the book you will not get much money for it unless it falls into the Antiquarian category.  Or has another additional feature that will draw in a collector.

For example:  At one point I was given a collection to sell that was nearly complete as of the time of the collector’s death. She had all of the Harlequin romance novels  printed from the the first book to the last one she was mailed.  As this is a series that is still ongoing  printing 4-6 books a month in each sub-category and she had all of the sub-categories as well. This meant that she had over 6,240 romance paperbacks in very good condition.  The publisher price of these was on average $4.99  per book. She spent over 31 thousand dollars on this.  Unfortunately since these were mass produced only the oldest 500 had any real value, while the rest could only be re-sold at 6 for a dollar.  Which means that as a seller I could only hope to make $1,000 on over 5,000 books over the next few years which would take up over 20 feet of book cases. So I could only offer the owner  $250 for most of the collection and another $400 for the older books. Even if they were signed by the author the value would not be much higher.

Why so little? Well booksellers need to pay the rent for the store & also need to eat. So the owner of the book is normally offered 1/4th to 1/2 of the value of the book in the current market.


So in conclusion this is just a starting point to determine if you a have a valuable book or not.  If in doubt, go on or and search for the book (discount Amazon’s prices please) and see what it is being offered for. Next compare what you have to what is listed using the information above. Lastly contact a bookdealer and see what they say.

I hope this helps you out, dear readers.

30 Years Ago Today: 'The More You Know' Made its Debut


Until next time, Happy Reading.


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Signatures, decorations, autographs and your old books.

Hello again.

Let’s set the scene. You get a message stating that you have inherited a collection from a distant relative and it is sent to you in a box.  Or you buy an old house and find a box in the attic.  When you open the box a slightly musty, earthy smell hits your senses.  Inside are a  stack of heavy books that seem like relics from another age. No dust covers, but the spines and boards are covered in  bumps and faded sepia colors.  When you pick one up you can see the page edges are dulled with golden flecks

It looks something like this: 

and if you peer closely you notice what looks like  drawings in the dusty gold. Something like this: 84 Best Edge Decoration images | Painting edges, Book binding ... or perhaps a drawing.

Wait wait.  you are thinking.  Everyone knows about decorative boards on old books and even decorative end pages.RESERVED Listing - Buyer Waiting Antique Book 1880s Poetical Works ...Endpaper - Wikipedia But drawings on the page ends? 

Well yes. This has been a trend in books since it started back in the 10th century. You can get it done today, if you want. It is called fore-edge paining. Hidden Edge Painted Books | Painted books, Antique books This is a very intricate skill, and most of the time until the pages are splayed, or opened, as you are reading,  the image will just look like little dots of color on the edges.  Let’s face it. When owning a book or ten meant you were rich and having a library meant you were Robber Baron rich, a good book would cost more than a year’s salary for your servant. You would want to be able to show your wealth without being crass about it. Thus the exotic leather coverings, the gilted decorative covers, the creamiest of vellum pages,  the marbled end pages, the copper pressed illuminated illustrations and the fore-edge paintings.  The more you had on it, the richer you were. But of course it all had to be tastefully done.

Decorative Book Cover Journal Pages printable. Vintage book ...Gilt | Glossary | Daniel Crouch Rare Books(Sometimes less is more. )

So where were we?   Oh yes. The open box.

When taking the books out, you carefully open one to see what the book is called.

You notice the patterned end pages that remind you of  a 1960’s pattern-if it was done in gray, red, or dark blue greens. You notice a nice illustration on the page before the title page (complete with a tissue guard) and the face that the words seem up raised under your fingers. You check the date and it is older than any of your living relatives. Then you notice the handwritten name  scripted in ink across the title page.

Don’t despair!

This might be a signed book!

So now what?

First you must see if you can read it.

Does it match the author name or the subject of the book (if it is a biography)?  Or is it a familiar name?  Is there a date?

All of these are important.

So if signature looks like the author name and is dated, then this is a good thing.  This is a signed book.

If the name is familiar, but not the author’s name, then this is a owner signature or  a dedication signature.  This could also be a good thing. Why?  You ask? Well some people like to collect the collections of other people or places.

People collect themes. Books from Rockerfeller’s personal library, books from Ash Tree Publishers,  books signed by the author,books by a particular author and books signed by a particular author.

Wait what? That last part didn’t sound correct. 

Ah but it is.  Some authors signed books that they had nothing to do with. In fact Asimov would sign anything. I’ve seen science textbooks (and yes, he did write some of them) and history text books that he signed for his young fans who, at the time, didn’t have anything else to have him sign.

Some authors signed books for other authors. Like for example if you find a copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars signed and dedicated to his interesting friend H.P.  and H.P. has his signature on a bookplate as well as the date. That Would BE EPIC! 

Why? well first off I’m into sure these two men would have known each other and then having TWO authors signing the same book that is NOT a collaboration of some sort is very rare. Very very rare.

I mean it would be almost like having an signed version of Stonewall Jackson’s Autobiography.

Or a pink, singing unicorn.

For if you do have a copy of Stonewall Jackson’s signed autobiography it is either not a real signature per se, or you have the unbound manuscript with the carved copper signature stamp.  And if you have that you will become very popular.

If you don’t know Jackson was sick when he was writing it and signed his name to be made into a copper plate stamp to be pressed into the copies of his book. He died before the first copy was printed.

The world of publishing is very intricate and complex. If you want to delve deeper into collecting there are myriad of rabbit holes to go down.  There are so many ways to forge a book, and most of the general readers  would have no clue as to when they are being taken for a ride.  The Vinland Map is a great example of this.  Check out  the link below for more details.

Another great example would be what kept happening in China.

What happened there? 

Honestly, it would take another blog post to cover the topic, but let’s just say that when the Dynasties changed hands, most of the time all of the books were burned and the names of places were changed.  But more on that another time.

So how do you know if you have a real, authentic signed book?  Well you have to get it appraised.

First off, go to a computer and look up when the book was published. If the book came out after the author died, it might be a fake.  If the signature is inserted on a small slip into the book (attached to the binding)  it might be a publisher’s addition.

If the dates line up, then it might be real. Next who wrote it? How many copies are out there? Is it still in print?

These are important t know.  For example I once found a “college romance” book that was a signed copy  by a member of the Peerage, who became Prime Minister before WWI.  Oddly enough it is still in print.

After doing your research, take pictures of the item. Be sure to have one of the Closed book (and book art), the title page, the publishers page , where the signature is,  what the color of the ink used is  and any other unusual thing you think might be important.

This video gives some good examples of what people are looking for:

Then put the books in a safe place where they cannot be easily damaged by – well- everything and anything.  Depending on what you feel you have found, you might want to rent a safe deposit box at a bank.

Keep your research handy, then look up a specialist. These are called Antiquities Appraisers, but this is a broad field of specialists, so you need to request one that deals with signatures and rare book appraisals.  Next do what they tell you to do.

Sometimes they will charge a fee, other times they will do it for free.  The value of a signed book will change slightly by the appraiser depending on their market.

Just remember that an appraiser and a rare book dealer might have a similar skill set, but they have different jobs. The appraiser can tell you if it is a valid signature and what the going rate for it is. The rare book dealer will tell you if it is valid and then what they will pay you for it.  Remember that buyers need to be paid as well, so the price you get might be a third of what it is sold for.  Sometimes you can negotiate , but they are not trying to cheat you.

And that’s it really.

If you want to  keep the book, you can either get an archival box, or just keep it on a shelf.  But if you do keep it ad it is apprised with the correct signature, then keep the appraisal information in a file on the shelf. This way, you, or your descendants, don’t have to go and have it done again.

Happy reading book friends.














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Old Books and What to do With Them

People love to read and when the books have been read so much they start to fall apart, people replace them. This is not something that I, as a secondhand dealer, object to. In fact this is very good for the environment as books have been mass produced for over 50 years now, so some out of print copies are almost “Like New.” In fact this is how some places, like Ikea, can fill their new shelf displays with identical copies of a few titles across all of the stores in a country to showcase how their shelving works. The same thing is done with fully furnished model homes. Why? Well everyone knows what a book looks like and it helps the minds-eye to see how your stuff could fit as a comparison. But I digress.

Buying used books can help the environment by not becoming waste and help the economy by making it easier, or more affordable,- for the most part -to buy items. If you want something to read, and only have $20 you can get either one new book, or, depending on your stores, up to 18 books that you might not have even heard about. Sounds good right? New to you books and a chance to replace a falling apart best read.

But what do you do with that broken, falling apart copy of a book?

If you are like most people, you toss it into the bin. Hopefully the recycle bin. Most of a book is recyclable. The hardcovers, due to that plastic sheen seen on kids books, is not. Some of the Dust Jackets (DJs, also known as Dust Covers or DCs) are not. Some are plastic based, some have waxed coatings and others are just sealed with archival tape. Good luck with that, archival tape, by nature, can survive a heck of a lot.

Other people burn books, which if they are too damaged, BUT NOT MOLDY, is a good way to compost them. The ash from the pages can be very helpful to maintain the temperature in compost piles. Do NOT burn moldy books. Just don’t. Do I really have to explain why? Let’s just say those pretty colors that come off of them are not good for your health. Moldy books are also not able to be recycled. So, those you can just toss.

Another group of people, we will call them Crafty Folk, like to upcycle them. Upcycling, for those who don’t know, is the art of taking something and re-purposing it for another use. Crafty Folk have used well read, trashed books to make sculptures, planters, decoupage items, safes, art displays and homemade stationary.

But no matter what you do and have done with older, cannot be repaired books, you must do this one thing in the future.

Find out who did the cover art.

Find out who did the cover art.


You might have noticed that every time a book gets reprinted the art work changes. Or that when it is printed for a different audience or in another language nothing matches? There may be some similarities,but most of the time it isn’t subtle. The photo below shows a good example of this:

In the 1970s, 80s & 90s a lot of fantasy & science fiction books had artwork by Boris Vallejo. His distinct style is instantly recognizable. For many years his fantasy art could only be found on the glossy covers of the mass market books.

What most people don’t realize is that some artists can start out drawing Dust Jackets and become famous later on. Other artists were already famous and offered their services to publishers or writers of their favorite books. Ingahild Grathmer, for example, did the illustrations for an 1977 edition of Lord of the Rings. Her style is quite distinct, but you might be more familiar with her other job, namely being the current Queen of Denmark Virgil Finlay, Paul Lehr, Frank Kelly Freas, Bob Pepper and H. R. Giger (yes that one) are just a few of the ones out there.

But here is a little secret.

Some of them have signed the books along with the author.

Thus there might be some value to that broken down book after all.

So before you toss that book, or do what ever else you were thinking about doing with it, check the book for the illustrator’s name and do some research. You might have a rare copy. Or you might just see some nice art work.

A win-win either way.

And since that DJ and cover cannot be recycled, why not save them, along with what ever interior artwork there is? You can offer it online to some Crafty Folk or some art teachers to see if they can use them for something.

But wait! What if I find the signature in the book?

First step is to put the whole book in a box or other safe place. You will need to do some research, and it will take some time.

And that process will be explained in the next posting.

Happy Reading!

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Moving with Your Books

Most of us have moved a few times in our lives. Most of us have had some books in our lives. But why is it so difficult for people to move with books?

Personally I think there are two aspects to this issue. : First the number of books vs the number of boxes. Second knowing how to pack them.


No one who collects books can comprehend how many books there really are in the collection. You might know the number of books, but that seems to become an abstract point.  For example the first time I moved as a child, my father asked me how many boxes I needed for my belongings. I said 4 boxes.  My valuables were in a suitcase, my toys were in a toy-box and my clothes were rolled & tightly sealed into my dresser. All that was left was my book collection.  Now I knew that I had an encyclopedia set, a 2 volume dictionary set from 1899 and my Star Trek book collection. I had recently complied a list of the volumes I had (as of 2019 over 850 books were in this series) and I knew that I had 400 of them.  So 4 book boxes would work right?

Let it be known that this did not work.

Places that sell moving boxes tend to sell what they call book boxes. This box is intended to hold 65 pounds, and is  16-3/8″ x 12-5/8″ x 12-5/8″ (W x L x H). These boxes are great until you fill them up. Then you can find out just how heavy your collection really is.  First you need to put paper or cloth down to protect the books. Then, only 24 regular sized hardbacks will fit per box and will be about 38 lbs.  An encyclopedia set can almost fit in one box.  That is quite a bit heavier than 38 lbs.  About 50 paperbacks can fit inside the box. I was quickly out of boxes.

Now since I was a child I did not know how to pack boxes of books, and since moving as an adult I’ve found that most moving companies don’t know how to pack book boxes either.

For most people using the boxes that printer paper comes in is a good box for books.  To be honest it isn’t a bad idea for a short move or if you have odd sized books. But those cartons are not stable enough to put more than two or three cartons on top of it. If you’ve ever bought a carton of printer paper you will notice that the stacks of paper are right up to the edge and there is not much wiggle room. Books should not be packed that way. Books need some gaps to prevent getting damaged. Stacking other boxes on top of the books -even if they are other book boxes- will cause the lids to break. But these are great for short trips and quick unpacking.

In college I used plastic milk crates to move from dorm to dorm. These stack nicely and you can pack them in a way that they are their own shelf. But the nature of the design of the crates tends to cause “shelf wear” on the books, so then you need in to bit levels in them and that can take up a bit of room. But these are easy to carry, so there is that in its favor.  But it is getting more difficult to find milk crates, so that might be an issue.

I have used cloth bags, the ones with the square bottoms, but those  are not the most stable and can damage the books if moved around too much. This is a better thing to use in the packing box. More on that later.

For shows I used to use cardboard boxes like printer boxes as they were easy to replace if damaged. One three hour rainstorm made me change to plastic totes. Plastic totes are great- if you can get the correct size and the number you need. The same size and brand will stack perfectly together.  Unfortunately different brands do not stack easily together and will cause the breaking or warping of the lids and sides. Also good plastic totes are between $14 to $30 each. When dealing with large collections you will need to invest in a good way to transport them.

The last time I moved my store. 5,000 titles. I packed the boxes and movers placed them in the truck.  Please remember to check the movers are putting the books against the walls of the vehicle.  Book boxes can be an extra wall of protection for the truck, but if they are used to layer the bottom of the truck there will be massive amounts of broken boxes.

So now you have the number of boxes…what then? You need packing supplies. Books need cushioning. This can be plain paper (as newspaper can create ink smudges) bubble wrap, packing peanuts or cloth. I have found that clean wash cloths, tea towels, hand towels, socks and most infant clothing can work as packing supplies quite well.  You will need to move those items anyway, so why pay for extra supplies and use more boxes for them? Use the towels on the bottom and top, roll the other items to fit snugly  in the black areas. Just remember to label the box so you know what you used. Nothing like having to open 40 boxes to find your infant’s onesie.

There is a video down below that will demonstrate how to pack them properly  in the boxes to avoid damage to the books and to the movers.



Now I like to also use the cloth bags in the box. So I layer the box with padding and place the open,  empty bag in the box. Ipack the books inside the bag like it was in a box. Then I foldthe handles overthe top and make sure there is enough padding around it before sealing it up. This is a good way to keep smaller collections together to easily shelve it later.

Moving is always stressful and the more ways  you can make it easier to do so is good for all involved.

Hopefully this post will help you do you.

Happy Reading.

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Customer information: Caring for your books

Hello again and welcome to another blog posting. Last time we wrote about how to store (display) your collection and today we will be discussing how to take care of your collection correctly.

So oddly enough people tend to forget that books are made of paper. By nature paper is temperamental. Time and temperature can cause many issues. If you have a larger collection, sometimes it becomes quite difficult to care for it properly. Since books went from ultra expensive & rare to inexpensive & cheaply made around 120 years ago people have seemed to forgotten just how delicate (for the lack of a better word) books are.  Over the years I have seen this when evaluating and purchasing collections. There are two distinct patterns that occur: lack of knowledge and lack of care. The rest of this blog post will address these two issues and then give suggestions on how to properly treat a book collection of any size. As always feel free to contact us with any other suggestions or comments.

Lack of Care

Lack of care can be also called lack of time. Unless you are dealing with your collection daily, either using them as reference materials or even just rereading them weekly, time management becomes a thing.It might not seem like a big deal, but cleaning your books collection should be a weekly thing. Fairly simple to do, if you have a particular day that you vacuum or dust, just remove the books from the case -by the middle of the spine and not the ends as that will start to fray the ends- wipe each with a dry soft cloth, then wipe down the shelf.  Dust can do damage to books over time as it will start mold growth. Dust mites attract other bugs which can also start infesting in your book. Did your pets get fleas? Child get lice? Have to spray for bugs? These are all good times to clean the book collection. Small bugs love to hide in yummy paper.

Wiping down the books weekly or bi-monthly can also let you see if there are any other issues occurring.  For example fading, yellowing, sagging spines and cracking of leathers. All of which are problems that can be easily solved in the beginning.

Lack of Knowledge


Books are made of paper.

This seems like an obvious thing to state, but do you know what exactly this means?  When paper is made wood pulp and fabric are mixed with water into a pulp and then formed into flat sheets. This video can explain how to do it better.   From the time that the page is created, paper is drying out. When it is completely dried it is cracking and tearing, sometimes crumbling at the touch. All of those cartoons when the book turns to dust and blows away in the breeze can happen if certain conditions are not met.

Mind you these days the production of paper has somewhat changed, so decay and turning to dust is not easily accomplished.

Step 1: Placement: Keep your books in a stable, moderate environment. Room temperature, around 70 degrees, and a moderate relative humidity, around 50%, is best.. Too much heat or moisture can speed up deterioration or encourage mold growth. Even though it is tempting to make the basement or the attic into a personal library or just use it for long term storage, don’t. They tend to not have good circulation (ha library joke!) and will either be too hot or too damp. If you absolutely need to store them long term in those locations use proper book storage containers, like those sold by Talas and other library archival companies.

So now where you do put your collection? Not in your sunniest room, no matter how much you enjoy reading there. There was a reason that personal libraries in older homes are designed with tall narrow windows, in the middle of the house and with dark heavy wood and leather.  Direct sunlight will fade your books. This is seen a lot where the dust jacket spine has changed from an orange to a weird mustard color after a decade of early morning sunlight. This is a reason why bookstore window displays need to be changed monthly.Fading, tanning, sunning and darkening are the terms used to describe the affect ultraviolet and direct sunlight will have on the paper. Leather bindings will dry out and crack instead of fading, but fading can occur as the moisture is drawn from the skin.  Pleather, or synthetic leather, will also fade, but instead of cracking it will get a sticky sensation as it starts to melt in the heat.  So a nice room in the middle of the house like the family room or living room seems more ideal.

But don’t put your bookcases along the exterior walls. Modern buildings are fairly thin walled. As someone who has lived in town homes, the warmest walls was the ones connected to the other homes. Exterior walls can experience temperature and humidity changes. Also try not to put the cases under a vent or along a wall where the plumbing shut off valves are or any lace that might have issues if a pipe breaks. (so not next to the kitchen or the bathrooms). That makes the ideal location the hallway.

Step 2: Treatment: You need to keep moisture down near your books. There are many ways to do this, but the best way I have found is to get boxes of baking soda and keep them open behind the books. Just like in the fridge, they absorb smells and excess moisture. Unlike other items like kitty litter and cedar chips, baking soda does not smell. And when it starts to clump, then you can replace it.  Cedar chips and moth balls will keep away most bugs, but the scents can be over whelming if you have a lot of shelving.  Closing the nearest air vent to the shelves  is a good thing to do as well.

If you have noticed some major damage to the books remove them from the shelves. What is “Major” damage? Mold, cracking leather and darkening pages.

If there is mold, mildew or a sweetly sour  scent remove the book from the others. Take the two books next to it off as well. Place the book in a ziploc bag with baking soda in it. Check the other books. Place them in individual ziploc as well. Wipe down the whole shelf with a bleach and water mix and let it air dry. Place the uncontaminated books on the shelf. Search for a place that repairs books. Depending on the extent of the damage, it might be best to just get a new copy.

If the leather is cracking and flaking  CALL A PROFESSIONAL. There are certain glues that will cause worse damage if used.

If the pages are darkening and tearing DO NOT USE COMMON TAPE. The glue will cause yellowing and will make the problem worse. If the damage is on the dust cover/ dust jacket remove it from the book. Get  some mylar covers and place them inside. Mylar covers are the book equivalent to plastic wraps and boards used for the storing of comic books. is a good place to find bookcovers for your collection.   The long link below  shows how to fit it properly.

Please do not use leather oil, mineral oil or leather dressing on the books. This will cause staining and other issues down the line.

If you have an extensive collection  having a good book bindery to go to is a blessing. is a good one.

Knowing these things will help you maintain your collection and help you enjoy your books for years to come.

Happy reading.




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Why are book listings so strange?

When looking for a book online the customer will stumble across a lot of abbreviations and strange words. Not that the words themselves are strange, but they don’t fit into the context very well.

The book has some minor foxing and is dogged.

Does that mean the book was part of some hunting expedition? Or is it saying that the book is all dressed up , yet ugly?  If one continues to read the listing the odds are there will be more than just the one comment. One might see..

 The book has some minor foxing and is dogged. DJ is G-/G with minor tears and fraying on edgs & corners. covs are dinged, glt letts is catted and somewhat marked. Minor fading on spine, w/sl foxing on interior. 

One might wonder if one has discovered some forgotten or  unknown  language and one would be almost correct.  This is an example of the book code language that sellers have been using since the beginning of writing to explain any differences between two identical works.

The reasons behind code are simple: time, space and money. A bookseller tends to have hundreds of items to sell, and must write, or type, all of the important information that the seller must know to create a visual image of the item so that the item does not get returned. This can take a lot of time to do. Even in these days of online selling, there are character limits  per item. Thus some things will be shortened. That leaves money. In the centuries past postage and paper was expensive, so requesting& listing books of a certain caliber held priority. But what if the copy of the very rare title The Sexual Appetites of Voles in the Springtime that one has to sell is not as pristine as the other three copies in existence?  How can one afford to describe it and still make money? What if you happen to have 15 pristine copies of The Worms I saw in My Midden and Other Epic Poems by Hermits with Lisps to off load and want to move them quickly?This situation occurred even into the 20th century when newspaper ads were charged by the word, and in some journals by the letter.  Well the sellers all had to agree to a code of abbreviations. This took a while as everyone had their own particular ways of doing so and was even worse when crossing the language barriers. With a few exceptions, the code has been unchanged for over a hundred years. But to they layman who only wants a book to read or give away this is akin to gibberish.

But why, does one ask,  do the booksellers not just take a photo?

I have over 3,000 titles that I am attempting to catalog and sell online. This is not as simple as just one photo per book. Some rarer books might have several problems that would require several photos and on most selling platforms there is a limit to photos per book and how much space those photos take up on the bandwidth. So for now the words will suffice.

Now you, dear booklover, might be wondering “Just what did that description mean and are those real books?”

I must confess that the first one, to my knowledge is not a real title. The second I found when I was 16 in a dusty resale charity shop. It was a self published booklet from 1885 and has gotten lost during one of the many moves I’ve made in the decades since.

And yes there was a love poem about the worms.

“Worms wiggle blindly into my heart from the baked goods you gifted upon me in the early days of spring, and with the waning summer of your affections they drift down drowning in my gutts solely to dance in naked glory in my midden at the sight of dawn.”

(Why do I remember that? )

Now on to the description.

The book has some minor foxing and is dogged. DJ is G-/G with minor tears and fraying on edgs & corners. covs are dinged, glt letts is catted and somewhat marked. Minor fading on spine, w/sl foxing on interior. 

If written fully out this is the description:

The book has some light tan speckles (or spots) due to the ageing process on some of the pages, while some of the pages have had the corners folded over for long periods of time. The dust jacket (or dust cover) is in somewhat good or good condition due to the age and use. There are rips in the edges that are less than a centimeter, but are noticeable and the corners & edges are worn enough from removing from the shelf that the paper is wearing out. The covers of the book have small marks on it, the gold colored lettering of the title have small scratch marks  and is worn. The color is lighter on the spine of the Dust Jacket than the rest due to sun exposure, and there are some tan spots on the non printed side. 

If being charged by the word this book’s price has now tripled.

So what good is this to you, the book lover and buyer?  Knowing the defects is good as you can know what you are getting.  So below you will find a list of the common terms and the definitions  to aid you in your purchasing.


RC/P/G-/G/G+/VG-/VG/VG+/NF/LN/N    Reader Copy/Poor/Good-/Good/Good+/Very Good-/Very Good/Very Good+/Near Fine/Like New/New

This is the list of general condition the book is in. From worst to best. Reader copy meaning you can still read it, but that is the only thing you can say about it. It might be missing a cover, it might have pages that are warped, but you can still read it. New is the best. New is fresh off the printer.  All of the other ones are subjective, and will have other descriptions included.

DJ/DC Dust jacket/Dust Cover

Used interchangeably, this refers to a separate, most often glossy, decorative paper that covers the book preventing damage to the boards.


This is the cover of the book.

FEP or Free End Pages

This is the blank two or three pages at the front and back of the books. Most of the time this will include the one glued to the boards. This is where people tend to put a bookplate.

Dec ep or Decorative End page

This is when there is some art on the feps that was included by the publisher.  If it is a colored random pattern it is called Marbled or Mbld.

Sp or Spine

This is the slightly rounded part of the book where all of the pages are glued or sewn together.


This is where the cover creases naturally when opens.


Tan spots caused by decaying paper


When the colored art or the boards or Dust Cover are lighter than the rest due to sun exposure.


When the pages have darkened from white/off white to any shade of tan to dark brown due to age.


Gold colored metallic (sometimes sparkling) lettering on the spine or covers.  Silvered Gilt is silver colored.


Creasing that occurs when a corner of a page  folded like a dog ear.


Happens in corners and near rips when the boards are worn enough that the threads are wearing out (like distressed jeans)

Ex-Library or Ex-Lib

This is a former library book. It is normally covered in library stamps, stickers and codes. Sometimes the DJ is in a plastic mylar cover (which is for cover protection) and it is taped to the book.



There are are many more and in the next post more will be explained.









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A Brf Hist o Abbrev. (A brief history of abbreviations)

Used book dealers tend to use unusual terms in the descriptions of their wares. There are many reasons for this “code” but the main one is that booksellers do not, as a rule, make a lot of money. Up until the advent of the internet, if one wanted to sell books outside of easy traveling distance there were two choices.

1: Hire a book scout: someone with a list who knows how to determine the condition of the book and will find and deliver it for a fee.

2: Place an advert in an industry newsletter or magazine.

The first option was normally used for general items that were needed all of the time. For example if a resort wants “beach reads” a scout will be sent out to find the titles that fit the category in the fall and deliver them by end of winter. The scout will be reimbursed for the titles and given a set finder’s fee. If one is utilizing many scouts, there is a massive issue of duplication and the scouts could be buying books that the resort might not want. This will lead to a glutting in the market of some titles/subjects in local resale shops as the scout must get some money from them. Another issue is that the scouts are only being paid a small finders fee. Thus they tend to search near their homes or while on personal trips. Which will result in a gleaning of the area.

This is why most stores or buyers (like resorts, libraries or offices etc) would utilize scouts from different regions or would go on costly book buying trips themselves.

The second option is to place an advert in an industry newsletter or magazine. Of course they would also place one in the local classified pages, if they wanted whole collections of mass media books (like romance or Clancy), but for anything specialized they went to the industry papers.

Thing is, unlike a craigslist ad (which booksellers use today), you have to pay for a classified advert. Usually by the letter, font size and the frequency it is being placed. So if it costs $10 for an advert to be placed twice a week at 2 cent per letter it might not sound like much. But is it?

Here is an example.

My latest arrival is a book by Irene Claremont de Castillejo titled Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology. This is a paperback, printed by Harper & Row Colophone Books in 1974. I would like a first or second edition, with limited wear & tear and no writing or owners marks in the interior.

Seems simple. Now lets take the important information out of that and place it into an advert form.


Irene Claremont de Castillejo

Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology.

Harper & Row Colophone Books 1974

1st edition or 2nd edition only

No interior writing or exterior damage.

Contact: E. Campbell @ 555-111-2222

33 words, 215 characters.

$4.30 for this one book, extra for the larger bolded font in the word Wanted. 172 characters without the header and the contact information. So if there are more books to be listed the cost for this one is already at 3.44$ Thus an advert for a lot of specific titles will probably cost more than the bookseller could sell them for.

After all we do have to eat.

So things got shortened.


I. Claremont de Castillejo

Knowing Woman: A Fem. Psy.

HarperRow Colophone 1974

½ ed o

cl. int/ext

Contact: E. Campbell @ 555-111-2222

94 characters and $1.88

It can be shortened even more.


I. Claremont de Castillejo

Knowing *

HarperRow 1974

½ ed


Contact: E. Campbell @ 555-111-2222

58 characters and $1.16. Which means that the bookseller can triple or quadruple the price, pay for the advert, get enough to cover the price of the title and still keep the cost down so that it will be bought. The * refers to any book by the author with the previous word being first in the title.  The * after the author’s name would mean that any book by that author & publisher  is needed.

Of course when one is dealing with antiquities and the issues the befall them, along with the variants involved ( it is leather bound, but cow is different from swine and ages differently depending on the dye used, and the process used to cure it.) a set code of terms or a sub language was needed. (Sub language is defined as a specialized language or jargon associated with a specific group or context. While slang is a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing). This was started with the booksellers and was gradually picked up by the publishers. It used to be country specific and also genre specific, but over the decades it has developed in to a general system that allows the reader to understand the condition of a title without a visual image.

This sub language is easy to understand once it is explained. Sort of like text speak. In another post I will list the various words and their meanings. This way you, the reader, and hopefully the buyer, will understand what the heck we are saying during the description, so that the end result is a book you want to have on your shelf.