Placing a Value on Old Books
Last Updated on November 8, 2021 – Originally Published on July 5, 2012

What would you do if you were cleaning the attic and found an old volume of Oliver Twist or Great Expectations? If you’re like most people, you’d probably wonder how much the book was worth.

Placing a Value on Old Books

How do people determine if they’ve got a first edition or just an old book?  There are a lot of variables to consider.

  • What’s the condition of the book? This is one of the most important factors.
  • Is it a first edition, first trade edition or first separate edition?
  • Is it signed by the author?
  • Is it a cloth-bound book?
  • Like other markets, supply and demand is a key factor.
Because many things to consider, it can be best to have the volume appraised by a qualified book dealer. The dealer will want to see the book so you’ll want to find one in your area.

Keep in mind that most dealers charge for appraisals.

Valuable Volumes

That being said, there are some online sources that can help.   Note that I have not had dealings with these companies, so use your own best judgement when selling your rare book.  

Advanced Book Exchange (AbeBooks) specializes in selling rare and out of print books.

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) may be able to help you find a book dealer in your area.

Bauman Rare Books has three locations across the United States. sells used, rare and out-of-print books. helps you see what prices books are bringing. This could give you an idea about the price of your own book.  Their website states:

Since 1997, BookFinder has made it easy to find any book at the best price. Whether you want the cheapest reading copy or a specific collectible edition, with BookFinder, you’ll find just the right book. searches the inventories of over 100,000 booksellers worldwide, accessing millions of books in just one simple step.

To find original editions, please select “Show more options” to refine your search by publication year. You can also choose to limit your search to first editions, signed editions, or hardcover.

Tavistock Books “specializes in first editions, fine rare books & other related bibliographic material, with a special focus on Charles Dickens.”

Local Resources

There may also be local resources available.  A local, independent bookstore may be able to offer some advice.  You can see what’s near you by using the bookstore finder on the website