Home Rare & Collectible Books What Makes a Book Rare & Collectible?

What Makes a Book Rare & Collectible


In the rare, collectible, out of print, and antiquarian book industry, there is no single set of standards for classifying any one item. Many variables - such as condition, provenance, edition, etc. - all contribute to a book's status.

So what standards do we use for our Rare & Collectible Books page? Out of print is the easiest: if the publisher is no longer printing a title, it is out of print. The term "rare" is more ambiguous; it doesn't just mean that it is hard to find or old. "Rare books" are those that are both scarce and in demand - this is what leads to their monetary value. "Collectible books" vary in that they may be easier to find and less valuable, but still of special interest: modern signed editions are an example. "Antiquarian" is the umbrella term that encompasses all of them.

We've made an effort to classify our inventory based on information provided to us by our Sellers: details such as provenance, edition, format, and signatures. On our Rare & Collectible Books page, we have curated some of our Sellers' most extraordinary items based on the above criteria. However, it is up to individual Sellers to describe their own inventory, so as you search, use your best discretion when analyzing the results.

If the specific title you want does not appear in the Rare & Collectible search results, you should try searching all used books. The book may be available but might not be labeled as Rare & Collectible.

Our general criteria for considering a book as Rare & Collectible are:
  • Artist’s Books
  • Association Copies
  • Chapbooks
  • Dedication Copies
  • First Editions (when more than $50)
  • Fore-edge Paintings
  • Leather, Vellum, or Suede Bindings
  • Limited Editions
  • Miniature Books
  • Out of Print
  • Presentation Copies
  • Privately Printed
  • Pulp Novels
  • Signed Copies
  • Uncut/Untrimmed Edges
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