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Three Steps to Selling Your Rare Books

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The love of collectible books often leads to an interest, or a need, in selling them. Selling a rare book to someone who is as enthusiastic about the volume as you are can be every bit as exciting as adding a new gem to your own collection. Book collecting and selling isn't just a hobby for the rich; it's a hobby for those who love to read. While some editions sell for thousands of dollars, many books that are considered rare sell for under 50 dollars. If you're a book lover who needs or wants to sell part of your collection there are three main steps to consider.

How to Value your Rare Book

On the topic of book pricing, the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America points out that many factors affect the monetary value of any volume. Condition, inscriptions, desirability, scarcity, binding and provenance are the main considerations. Books aren't necessarily valuable because they are old and like most collectibles, rare books don't always appreciate over time. Understanding the current market is necessary to set a fair price. Unless you're an experienced collector, the best option is to consult a knowledgeable book seller or professional appraiser to assess the current market value of the volume or simply do your research.

To Restore or Not to Restore

In some cases investing in professional restoration can add significant value to a rare book, but in others the cost of restoration is too high in comparison to the market value of the volume. Restoration can include repairing tears, rebinding, replacing endpapers or restoring the original cover. A reputable book conservator will ask to see the book in person before offering an estimate. Books that are valued as artifacts should probably not be restored but may benefit from light conservation efforts -- steps that halt erosion of the original manuscript.

Where to Sell a Rare Book

Selling books can be an exhilarating experience, especially if several bidders are interested in your volume. If you're worried about it selling too low, you can set a reserve to make sure the book sells at a minimum acceptable price. Selling your rare book directly to a book dealer won't fetch the highest price -- a dealer needs to make money on the transaction too -- but it's often the most beneficial option in the long run; you'll widen your network in the book-collecting world and avoid dealing with people who want to haggle over the price or are more interested in looking than buying.

By properly assessing your book's value and becoming more familiar with the market, you'll be in a much better position to follow through with the selling process. A book may hold extreme sentimental value to you and may also meet all the criteria to qualify as a "rare" book, but the world of collectibles is a fickle one that fluctuates with the desirability of an item at any point in time. After learning the fair market price of your book and receiving an estimate for any restoration work that's needed you'll be well prepared to sell your rare book with confidence.

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