Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you buy books?
Yes. There really is no way around it.
- What do you buy?
Uncommon first editions, in great condition, of literature by collectable authors. Also, manuscripts, correspondence, signed works and publication material by the same authors.
- What don't you buy?
We try to avoid buying books commonly found on the internet, so as to avoid adding our copy to internet listings, where it will languish in the continuing downward spiral of internet prices until it appears to be overpriced.
- Why does your book cost so much? Or, conversely, why isn't my book worth what it used to be?
A. Supply and demand.
B. The internet. It used to be that if there were a dozen available copies of a particular book in the world, and if you found one, you would justifiably think you had found a rare book and would pay accordingly. Now if there are a dozen available copies of a book in the world and they all appear on the internet simultaneously, you will see the book as not rare at all and buy the cheapest one you have confidence in. Prices of truly common books have plummeted since the internet localized supply; prices of truly rare books have increased as the small supply has been quickly exhausted by the internet's concentration of customers.
- Will my collection increase in value?
A. Some of it will. Every author and title has its own supply and demand curve, which changes. Books in high demand and short supply will tend to increase, and vice versa.
B. If you collect what you love and you continue to love it, then the intrinsic value will remain the same.
- Will you tell me what my book is worth?
A. Yes, if you are selling it to us and you can come to terms with the fact that we will then try to sell it for more than we paid you.
B. Yes, if you are one of our friends or customers and you just want to know because that's the kind of day you are having.
C. Yes or no, if we have never heard of you and you have found out that we are famous and reliable and you want us to price your book so you can list it on one of the reputable or not so reputable internet sites. In this situation, the answer sometimes depends on whether or not you seem aware that you are asking for free professional advice. It helps if you give us your profession and your phone number so we can call you when we have questions in your field.
- Wouldn't I make more money if I sold the book myself?
Yes. You will need a customer. Customers are more rare than books.
- How do I sell you my book?
Contact us with a description. If we're interested, we'll make you a preliminary offer. When you send us the book, we may adjust the offer based on our increased or decreased enthusiasm level when the book is in hand. When we confirm our offer, you can accept it and we'll send you a check; or you can reject it, and we will promptly return your book(s).
- What should I collect?
This depends on your personality and your budget and ranges from:
A. Gorgeous copies of high end books generally recognized by the culture at large to have value, to:
B. Everything ever written by your own favorite authors, including manuscripts and correspondence and advance copies and secondary appearances and foreign editions and canceled checks and napkin doodles. For a one sentence answer, try:
C. The nicest possible copies that you can comfortably afford of books that please you.
- Why do I want a first edition?
Oh, long answer. See Ken's article, here.
- Indications of first editions vary by publisher and by date, so how do I know if my book is a first edition?
A. You bought it from us or from another reputable dealer.
B. You did not buy it from someone whose internet description said something like "FIRST EDITION later printing. RARE! In later issue ORIGINAL DUSTJACKET. FLATSIGNED on a professionally tipped-in page!"
C. You can look it up in a reference guide such as Book Collecting by Pat and Allen Ahearn.
D. If you are a customer of ours or intending to sell it to us, you can just ask.
- Is it better to have a book signed or inscribed?
The more words the better. See Ken's article, here.
- Isn't a later printing of a first edition still a first edition?
In technical terms, yes: all the printings made from the original setting of type are first editions. But in collecting terms, NO. In the market of collectable books, it is generally understood that "first edition" means "first printing of the first edition." The internet has spawned a gray market in later printings: because there are (unwise or unreputable) dealers offering later printings as "first editions," and unwary customers buying later printings, later printings of some books have now attained values they didn't previously have. However they are unlikley to validly attain the value of a first printing. In general, don't buy a later printing unless: the book is such a high spot that you can't afford a first printing; or, there is something cool about the book anyway (such as a signature or inscription unattainable in a first printing). Just to confuse the issue further: first printings of later editions can be valuable if they include something the original edition did not.
- What are proofs and why should I care?
Uncorrected proofs (and advance reading copies) are (usually) softcover issues of books released prior to publication, either for inhouse use, or for reviewers or booksellers. They are typically done in small quantities (dozens or hundreds) relative to the first printing of the trade edition. They therefore have the two qualities most prized in the first edition market: they are both earlier and scarcer than the first edition. Generally speaking, a "proof" is issued first, in plain wrappers; an "advance reading copy" (often confusingly marked "Advanced Uncorrected Proof") is issued later and bound in glossy pictorial wrappers. As a bonus, there are sometimes variations between the proofs or ARCs and the published version, allowing for a glimpse at an earlier version of the text. See Ken's article, here.
- What do your descriptions mean?
Fine means practically perfect in every way, at least 99% flawless. It is our highest grade.
Near fine is fine minus the named flaws.
Very good is truly tolerable even though we wish it could be better, but it has been priced to reflect its very goodness.
Good or Fair means there must be something incredibly cool about this book for us to be offering it in such unfortunate condition.
Wrappers = softcover.
Uncorrected proof = a softcover prepublication copy, usually in plain printed wrappers.
Advance reading copy = a softcover prepublication copy, usually in pictorial wrappers (and often labeled "Advance Uncorrected Proof").
Review copy = a first trade edition with prepublication material laid in, typically sent out to reviewers in advance of publication.
- What is the ABAA?
The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America. ABAA members have been screened for knowledge and integrity, and should a member fail in either, you have a recourse within the organization.
- Why are your books sometimes more expensive than other copies on the internet?
A. Our copies are better.
B. Our copies actually are what they are described as being.
C. We bought them or priced them in a vastly different prevailing environment, and we are often behind in the continuing process of bringing every one of our books into line with the constantly changing market.
D. We like what we sell and this sometimes causes us to price books what we think they should be worth instead of what the market thinks they should be worth.
E. Please note that our books are also sometimes less expensive than other copies on the internet, but no one ever seems to ask us why this might be.
- I found a cheaper copy somewhere else. Should I buy it?
If you have confidence in the other dealer's knowledge and description and reputation and return policy, yes. Or ask us why it would be better to buy our copy.
- Why haven't you responded to my email or phone call offering you those books I found in my aunt's chicken coop?
We are popular. We are outnumbered. This does not mean we are not interested, unless it's been more than two weeks and you've tried twice, and then we're probably not interested. We're sorry. We meant to call.
- Will you appraise my collection?
Maybe, but only for a lot of money. Appraisals consume a lot of hours during which we are not doing far more lucrative things. So our fees have to reflect not just the cost of what we are doing but the cost of what we are not doing.
- What's your logo?
It's a coffee splotch. The image of a book was taken.
- Can I come visit?
Yes, but call first: we are not here at any particular time, nor are we actually at our published address (which is a mailing address). Also, we'll need to vacuum.
- How can I make you happy?
A. Buy our best books.
B. Sell us your best books.
C. Buy a large number of our lesser books (volume discounts available).
D. Bring us coffee.