|Instead, book collectors build income the slow but steady way by improving their knowledge about books, the market segment they've chosen, and strategic pricing.
They're able to locate highly profitable titles by learning about important genres, authors, and specific titles to understand the value of old books.
How To Get Started
One of the first things you’ll need to do is learn the lingo. A good place to start is the Independent Online Booksellers Association website.
If you’re going to sell old books online as a professional, then you need to learn how to act and sound like one.
Old books are more commonly referred to as antiquarian books or antique books and they are usually out of print and very hard to find. But just because a book is out of print doesn’t make it valuable.
There are plenty of books that are no longer printed that have hundreds of thousands of used copies available if not millions. Those kinds of books are neither rare nor valuable. Therefore, you have to know what they're worth before you can sell your old books.
To get really good at spotting valuable books you need to learn how to spot Points of Issue, or what are sometimes referred to by the antique bookseller as Issue Points.
Learning about points is crucial if you want to sell antique books.
I'll give a brief summary of what they are here. But the authority on the subject can be found in a little book called Points of Issue: A Compendium of Points of Issue of Books by 19Th-20th Century Authors, by Bill McBride. You'll want to buy a copy as soon as possible.
Points of Issue are unique characteristics of a book that sets it apart from other copies of the same title. For example, there could be a handful of copies with a particular spelling error, or there can be a sentence or paragraph that’s different than all the other copies in print.
Rare old books could also be autographed, have a different cover or dust jacket, or there could be an identifying mark on the cloth board. Antiquarian bookselling can get very complicated and you need to learn the ropes if you want to sell books online.
One major issue point with which you want to become familiar is how to identify first editions. A great place to start is to buy yourself a good reference book like First Editions: A Guide to Identification, by Edward N. Zempel and Linda A Verkler. That's what I did when I wanted to sell my collectible books.
One of the best ways to become proficient in identifying issue points is to specialize in a select genre of books and become an expert. For example, you can sell old fiction books written by certain authors. Or you could sell old vintage AA books.
Where to Sell Old Books
You need to learn where to sell antique books and get the highest price possible. Most Internet booksellers list their inventory on Amazon.com. However, that’s not always the best place for a rare book seller.
There are websites that specialize in providing a marketplace where antiquarian book collectors can find titles for their private collections. That's where I go when I want to sell my old books.
Websites such as AbeBooks.com, Alibris.com, and Biblio.com provide a unique venue where the general public can perform an old book search and find just about any out of print title in the world, no matter how old and rare it may be.
An antiquarian bookseller must rely on trust, good service, and dependability to maintain a good reputation among his or her peers and colleagues, just like business people in other professions.
Only deal in quality merchandise. For example, if a rare book has on offensive smell, learn how to remove book odors to increase its value and please customers.
Always deal fairly and honestly with everyone you meet. Sometimes the only thing standing between you and that next big sale is the reputation that precedes you when you sell antiquarian books.
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