Monday, 23 November 2009

How to appraise a book

Mini & Formal appraisals
If you've just picked up a new (to you) book and are wondering if you got a deal, do a mini-appraisal. This type of "guesstimating" isn't as accurate as the real deal, but it should give you a general idea of what the title in question is selling for. It's awfully tempting to place too much stock in a mini-appraisal.

There are certain times when it's worth it to have your collection formally appraised. For example, if you are donating your collection to charity and want proof of its value for tax purposes, are insuring the books or are including your collection in your will, having an appraisal done by an experienced book appraiser is well worth the investment.

How to Informally Appraise a Book

Found an interesting book in the attic and wonder how much its worth? It is possible for the lay person to perform an informal appraisal, to get a "ballpark estimate" of the possible value of a book.

  • Take note of the following information: title, author/editor(s), illustrator (if any), edition, and binding.
  • Grade the book's condition: as-new, fine, very good, good, fair, reading copy.
  • Search online booksellers such as abe and alibris. Note the results. Are there any copies that are the exact same edition and in similar condition to your copy? This will give you a ballpark estimate of the book's retail value.
  • If your online search yielded inadequate results, or you'd like to double-check your findings, consult a price guide at your local library.
  • For a rough estimate of what a bookseller might pay you for the book, divide the market value in half.
  • Take the All-In-One Search Form results with a grain of salt. Just because a seller is offering a book at a certain price doesn't mean they are going to be able to successfully sell it for that price.

The above instructions are intended to help the book collector find a rough estimate of a book's possible value. For specific, authoritative advice about your particular book, always consult a professional book appraiser.

Additional Help

For further help and advice specifically on collecting and identifying your book collection visit our website at