Selling Vintage Books: Presented by Suzanne Zinnkokso, The Friends of Killingly Public Library
The sale of Vintage books has always been an area of great debate amongst Friends groups. Groups often hold on to Vintage books in hope of a big sale. Often the books are overpriced in bad condition and withheld from the
normal book sale. This practice is completely wrong. Book dealers come to our book sales in hopes of finding books that they can resell. They have already begun staying away from Library sales as more and more of you prescan your books and remove them prior to the book sale. In order to keep the dealers or any Bibliophile coming to our sales we have to keep the appeal. Vintage books are very enticing!
A vintage book means a book from another era and popularity like the Great Gatsby (1925), collectable because the author has attained great fame, a first edition being most collectable. Book values are enhanced by small 1st press runs, author signatures (depending on how well known they are). Value is also determined by scarcity and popularity such as Civil war literature. Other books are valued because of their illustrator, for example, the Wizard of Oz books by WW Denslow or books with Tasha Tudor and Arthur Rackham illustrations.
One of the best sites around is Abe books.com they give a range of prices of the same title from low to high. This is here “sensible” comes into play! A book can often range between $10 and $200 depending on condition and availability. One must stay in the lower pricing range as who will buy from you if they can get in cheaper online! EBay is not a good marker for book prices, most sellers do not know their books and massively overprice… It is however a great place to sell! Many Libraries sell via an EBay site if you have a member willing to run this, do so, this is a good avenue for book resale.
Now if you come across “vintage books” that after researching you know are scarce and extremely valuable. The group should consider contacting a local book dealer and having them sent to auction or sold on their behalf online. Holding a Vintage only Book Sale, if you have a number of books as you do, is the way to go. For regular book sales, the Vintage and Collectable should be included in the book sale advertising. The books should be separated from the rest and marked individually.
The most important thing to remember is that the books need to be sold, prices have to be reasonable so the buyer can make a profit, the group gets their money and the book lives on!
Selling Vintage Books on Amazon: Presented by Jean Oliva, Friends of the Stafford Library
Amazon is a great place to look up the “going price” for vintage books. If you go to the Amazon website, click on “Shop by Department” and then “Books & Audible” and then “Books”, the page that opens up will have a header that includes a choice of “Advanced Search.” When you click on that, the search page that opens up will allow you to enter in the author, title, publisher and date of publishing, so you can see results specific to your book (this is especially of value when you’re researching the price of a book that has had many publishers or printing dates).
Once you find the Amazon listing for your book , you can look at the “used & new” prices that it’s selling at. The listings also indicate the condition of the book, so you can evaluate what your copy may be worth, given its condition. Also, if you click on “Sell on Amazon” or “Have one to sell?”, a page will open up that’s used for listing a book for sale. If you scroll down and look under “Product Details”, it will show you the book’s Amazon sales ranking. Needless to say a sales ranking of 5,000,000 means the book could sit on your shelf a long time before it sells, even if you price it to sell!
Selling vintage books can be rewarding at times. I recently sold (on Amazon) a 1938 book in very good condition entitled “Market Milk and Related Products.” I noticed the buyer had the same last name as the author, so I inquired as to whether they were related. It turns out the book was purchased by the grandson of the author to give to one of his own children. I was happy to learn that the book would end up with someone who would have an emotional bond to it. If we had sold it in our regular book sale, I’m sure it would have ended up in the leftover discards at the end of the sale. That said, I think the book was on the shelf for 3 or 4 years before it found that special buyer.