You don't have to be a seasoned book collector to shop at rare bookstores. An interesting copy of your favorite book or an unusual gift for someone might be what you're after.
It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with book terminology in order to converse knowledgeably at rare bookstores. The IOBA, The Independent Online Booksellers Association, has a comprehensive glossary. For more information, the book ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter is excellent.
Booksellers describe books by their condition. Most sellers of antique books will describe them in the following ways:
- As New means that the book is as it was when first published.
- Fine describes a book that is not as crisp as As New but still has no defects. If a dust jacket shows wear it will be noted.
- Very Good allows for some wear but it must be minor and notation should be made.
- Good means that there may be some small tears or wear but all of the pages are intact. The seller must make note of the exact damage.
- Fair is used when a book has all of its pages but is worn and may lack end pages. Damage will be noted in the description.
- Poor means that the book is so worn that it is only a reading copy; it has no value as an antique or rare book.
Antique and Rare Bookstores and Resources
Most towns have at least one used bookstore that has a few antique and vintage books in it. If you can't locate a store near you then you have the option of a huge variety of antique stores on the Internet.
Half Price Books
Half Price Books is a chain of books that is located in many cities. Not only do they carry used books at excellent prices but they usually have a large selection of vintage tomes in a special section of the store. If you don't have a Half Price Books store near you then you can browse the online store simply by typing in titles or authors into the search engine.
Abe Books is an online search site that allows you to search thousands of book sellers in an instant. You can then peruse the list to see which books match your preferences and your budget. Each bookseller has different methods of payment, shipping, and other details so be sure to read the information carefully.
Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) has a search engine that allows you to search member's sites for the books you are looking for. You can buy the book through the site or go to the member site to deal directly with the seller. ABAA does accept credit cards as well as Paypal so it is simple to buy your book.
Biblio is an online resource with hundreds of booksellers in their data base. You search for a book by title, author, and other criteria and get a listing of all of the books available. You can purchase with check, credit card, or Paypal as well as buy gift certificates for your favorite bibliophile.
If you are a cookbook collector you will love Vintage Cookbooks. The books offered changes due to changes in stock, however there are books from the late 1800s offered as well as more recent manuscripts. There are nice, large images of the books as well as good descriptions.
The company only takes check or money order.
Argosy was founded in New York in 1925 and is still family owned today. They specialize in Americana, first editions, autographed copies, art, antique maps & prints, and more. The accept all major credit cards, Paypal and personal check. Be sure you read descriptions carefully; the return policy only allows for returns if their description was not accurate.
Choose Reputable Sellers
Antique books are a fascinating look at the past, both through the written word and the illustrations they contain.
- If you plan on buying one antique book or hundreds you should choose reputable sellers that belong to trade associations and have been in business for awhile.
- Autographed copies should come with a certificate of authenticity. This ensures that the autograph is authentic.
- Always read and understand the return policy before placing your order. Ask questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
These practices will help ensure that the book you pay for is the book you get.