Collecting Antique Books – How to Become a Book Hound

February 16, 2012 – 13:57
Ernest Hemingway Rare First Editions The Old Man and The Sea A

One hobby that is rapidly growing in popularity is that of antique book collecting. because there are still so many rare antique books around in places like small town auctions and garage sales, there is a chance to collect classic works cheap and possibly make some good money on the side selling these rare first editions to serious collectors and rare book bookstores.

If you’re interested in collecting antique books and joining the legions of book hounds out there, one of the first things you will need to learn is the difference between old books and antique books.

Not every old book is going to be worth something. there are many books from around 1900 that aren’t worth anything, even if they are uncommon, because they were just pulp fiction back then, and so not worth anything now, either.

On the other hand, there are paperbacks from the 1960s an 1970s that are worth a couple hundred bucks each (see Richard Bachman, or one of Dean Koontz’s dozen pennames). this is usually because of a famous author writing these books under pennames, then becoming famous later on in the career.

When collecting books, the popularity of the author or the book does make a difference in how much it is worth. this is in addition to how many copies of a book are estimated to be left. there are hundreds of thousands of copies of Sinclair Lewis’s and John Steinbeck’s later novels, but they are classic authors and so first editions in great condition are still worth decent money.

Many great collectible books, especially the most valuable, are first editions of books by famous authors that were written before the author became famous. this is why books like Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, and the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway are great first edition books, but worth far less than nearly unheard of early books by these authors like:

1. Hike and the Aeroplane (Sinclair Lewis)
2. Cup of Gold (John Steinbeck)
3. In our Time (Ernest Hemingway)

These latter three books are worth $12, 000-$60, 000 for true first editions, in strong part due to the fact that these were some of the earliest works by these authors, who were all unknown at the time, so not only are they by famous authors, but they’re rare, as well.

Knowing the difference between just an old book, and a valuable rare book, is critical in becoming a good book hound.

Tagged with: pulp fiction • rare antique books • richard bachman

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