Book History Publications | Locating and Pricing Out-of-Print Books
Book History Associations | Booksellers & Finding Services | Other Resources and Exhibits
- Book History Publications at USC
- The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America
T. Howard Hill, Editor, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina.
- Locating and Pricing Out-of-Print Books
- The best introductory discussion for non-specialists trying to check on a potentially rare or valuable book is Your Old Books. More specific guides on pricing are more useful when one understands the general issues involved. Note that (a) the price a dealer tries to get for a book is not necessarily what he/she can actually get; and (b) price varies a lot by condition. First editions, in good/original condition, with unmarked dustjackets (where relevant), and interesting inscriptions, are generally the most valuable.
On-line resources are now the basic tool for finding out-of-print books and filling gaps in older collections. They allow up-to-date price comparison for a wide range of books, but are limited as a pricing guide to those books currently on offer. There are several, though some have recently fallen victim to takeovers. As a starting point, the ABE, as described below, can be set to limit searches to first editions and/or to inscribed copies. Note: FMV=fair market value for appraisal.
- Advanced Book Exchange [ABE]
- A sophisticated search engine originally for "better" antiquarian dealers only, but now more general. Descriptions generally specify condition according to established trade criteria. Prices vary, but generally within trade FMV expectations.
Print resources are retrospective, and of little or no help in locating copies still for sale. They are best for checking possible special features of rarer books, or for checking the realism of a single catalogue price. They may indicate dealers and sources with special interests for possible contact. Prices in print sources become dated quickly. These resources may be found in the reference section of Rare Books and Special Collections.
- Bookman's Price Index
- Bookman's covers items listed in bookdealer's catalogues, primarily those at the top and middle of the rare book market. Prices listed are those asked, though the item may not have actually sold for that amount. The index is arranged in sequences of books, and "inscribed & association copies". Bookman's is indexed every ten volumes or so, with brief detail for cross-referencing to the main entry volume. Available in the Thomas Cooper Library's Rare Books and Special Collections, Z1000 .B74
- American Book Prices Current
- This listing covers only items sold at auction and items in top end of market; list of auction-houses are covered at the front. Less outstanding items are often bought for resale (i.e. prices below FMV, allowing markup). The index is arranged in two sequences: manuscripts and books, and is indexed every four or five years. It is most valuable for tracking items that only emerge into the market at rare intervals. Available in the Thomas Cooper Library's Rare Books and Special Collections, Z1000 .A51
- Book History Associations
- The American Printing History Association (APHA)
- "APHA encourages the preservation of printing artifacts and source materials for printing history, as well as the development of museums and libraries to house them."
- The Bibliographical Society
- "Founded in 1892, the Bibliographical Society is the senior learned society dealing with the study of the book and its history."
- The Bibliographical Society of America (BSA)
- "The Bibliographical Society of America (BSA) was organized in 1904 and incorporated in 1927. Its principal objectives are to promote bibliographical research and to issue bibliographical publications."
- The Bibliographical Society of Canada
La Société Bibliographique du Canada
- "The principal aims of the Society are to promote bibliographical publications; to encourage the preservation and to extend the knowledge of printed works and manuscripts, particularly those relating to Canada; to facilitate the exchange of information concerning rare Canadiana; to coordinate bibliographical activity and to set standards."
- The Printing Historical Society
- "...the Society fosters interest in the history of printing and encourages both the study and the preservation of printing machinery, records, and equipment of historical value."
- The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP)
- "The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing was created in 1991 to provide a global network for book historians, who until then had usually worked in isolation. SHARP now has about 900 members in 20 countries, including professors of literature, historians, librarians, publishing professionals, sociologists, bibliophiles, classicists, booksellers, art historians, reading instructors, and independent scholars."
- Society for Textual Scholarship (STS)
- "Founded in 1979, STS is an organization devoted to providing a forum . . . for the discussion of the interdisciplinary implications of current research into various aspects of contemporary textual work: the discovery, enumeration, description, bibliographical analysis, editing, and annotation of texts in disciplines such as literature (particularly European, American, and Oriental), history, musicology, classical and biblical studies, philosophy, art history, legal history, history of science and technology, computer science, library science, lexicography, epigraphy, palaeography, codicology, cinema studies, theater, linguistics, and textual and literary theory."
- Booksellers and Bookfinding Services
- "The Ultimate Source for Used, Rare, and Hard-to-Find Books."
- American Book Exchange
- "World's Largest Source of Out of Print Books - 13 million titles listed"
- A service of NAN, the Nederlands Antiquaren Netwerk [Netherlands Antique Booksellers' Network], this site has four online databases, including one devoted to maps and prints and another for prints from the Illustrated London News.
- Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA)
- "ABAA-booknet specializes in rare and antiquarian books, maps, and prints."
- Blackwell's Bookshops
- Blackwell's web site "offers the same traditional virtues that have established Blackwell's as the world's finest academic bookseller since our first terrestrial bookshop opened in Oxford more than 100 years ago."
- This site indexes the online catalogues of eight different booksellers and includes recent publications as well as hard-to-find items.
- An international cooperative of used and rare booksellers.
- Other Resources and Exhibits
- The Smithsonian Institution Libraries' List of Web Exhibits
- An alphabetical listing of over a Thousand rarebook exhibits and online from major libraries accros the United States
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