In this digital age, the rare book trade seems to be a relic from a bygone era, renowned solely for dusty volumes and academic rare book traders. However, did you know that e-books have helped readers understand the importance of physical books? It is a historical artefact rather than a written document.
People may now learn all they need to know about book collecting thanks to the vast amount of information available on the internet. Rare book dealers in New York also handle a broader range of material, bringing a once-dormant business back to life. Trade has changed dramatically in the past 20 years compared to the preceding 200 years as a result of these advancements. With that in mind, here are some intriguing (and surprising) secrets (and surprises) of rare book traders in Los Angeles and beyond. While keeping these in mind, let’s look at 5 useful tips that we can learn from an experienced rare books veteran.
Just because a book is old doesn’t mean it’s rare.
Supply and demand are important factors to consider while acquiring rare books. When a book is difficult to come by and more people need it, it is said to be rare. The book does not qualify as “rare” if the supply and demand are not in high demand.
So, you could show a book from the 1800s to a Los Angeles rare book dealer and yet not sell it. This is since the book is not in great demand. Do not assume that just because a book is ancient, it is desirable.
When it comes to rare book collectors, the term “old” has a lot of meaning. A book from the 1850s, for example, is not that ancient in 500 years of written history. Books produced in the 1400s, particularly from the early years of printed books in the West, are regarded to be ancient.
It’s Not All About Books
Even while the word “book” appears in the titles of rare book dealers, this does not imply that they solely deal in books. Scrolls, manuscripts, etchings, and other works are handled by rare book merchants in Los Angeles and other cities. It may even contain ventriloquist dummies on occasion. When it comes to rare book buyers, if there is a text or an object that has connection to books, it is beneficial to them.
Dust Jackets Play a Vital Role
Completeness is a critical criterion in book collecting. Completeness refers to a book’s ability to preserve all its contents from the moment it was originally published. When it comes to recent works, the price of the first edition might fluctuate dramatically depending on the condition of the original dust jacket.
The Great Gatsby is a great example. The initial edition might range from $4,000 to $6,000 in price. The cost of an original dust jacket might be about $100,000. You can learn how to identify whether a book is the first edition in our guide. On first edition books, you’ll find wonderful details.
Every page of a book is counted by rare book buyers.
Rare book sellers in New York City and elsewhere count every page of every book, particularly those from the 1800s. It was known as the hand-press era. That’s because the farther back in print history you go, the more likely you are to come across missing pages.
Unsatisfactory portions from forbidden books are pulled out, while exceptional engravings are taken, framed, and hung. Usually, the vacant pages at the front or back of a book are missing.
Because paper was formerly expensive, book owners tore those blank pages to use. That is why rare book dealers in New York must inspect every page to ensure that everything is in working order. Dealers have their own method of counting books depending on how the printer produced them. Tip: Do not interrupt a book seller who is counting books. It may be excruciating to reach the middle of a 500-page book and have to restart from the beginning.
Collecting rare books does not need a large sum of money.
The original edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, valued at $150,000, and the Shakespeare First Folio, valued at $6 million, are the books that regularly make the news. The fascinating collections housed at certain famous institutions, on the other hand, were assembled by individuals who did not purchase the costliest books. The Lisa Baskin collection, for example, was purchased by Duke University in 2015. It spans five centuries and documents women at work.
Baskin created this world-class collection at a fraction of the cost that you may think. And that’s because she’s been collecting books for almost 40 years, buying them when they weren’t in high demand.
Bookstores Don’t Wear White Gloves
This is a common misunderstanding concerning rare books. Strangers shout at book salesmen as a result of it all (which isn’t nice). If you didn’t know, gloves have been shown to reduce tactile sensitivity. In other words, wearing the gloves increases your chances of ripping a page or ruining the book. Handling rare books with your bare hands is the finest method. Of course, only after thoroughly washing and drying your hands.
However, there are few exceptions: you must use gloves while handling certain elements on the book, such as metal bindings. White gloves, on the other hand, are not permitted by rare book curators at institutions such as the Harvard library system. This restriction applies to the British Library as well.
Now you are aware about some expert tips on how to purchase rare books. Make sure that you adhere to all these tips and end up with getting hold of the best rare books that you can possibly buy out there. You will surely fall in love with the results that come on your way with it.