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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Library Book Sales

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 27, 2006



Libraries always have books that are donated to the library, which cannot be used in the library's collection.


Some are in poor condition, others are outdated, and some are simply not needed for the local library collection.


Sometimes, books are sent to other libraries that could use the book due to a local subject matter.


Used books sales are held by libraries to provide the books with a new home.


Now, the California State Library has another idea to help libraries with donated books, and provide funds to the library.


In 2003, they wrote a grant application to develop an online library book sale site on the Internet, developed specifically for the library market of books.


Now, that site has been opened to libraries nationwide to list and sell their surplus donated books for the benefit of each individual library.


It is called and has become a popular shopping area for people wanting to acquire antiquarian books.


A library simply registers on the site, and begins listing their available surplus books for public sale.


Most listings are donated books, as there is little interest in books that were formerly part of a library collection due to their wear.


The site can be browsed or searched by author and title, and a complete description of the available books accompanies each listing.


Library Book Sales provides some tips on book collecting based on their four years of operation that you might apply to your book collecting.


The First Edition of a book will likely be more valuable, simply because it was the first.


Later editions have lesser value, and book club editions have no monetary value except as a "reading copy."


Old doesn't mean valuable.  Between 1880 and 1910, many publishers reprinted classic works in beautiful bindings and today they are good for interior decoration.


Paper dust jackets in good condition can add value to a book ten-fold.


Condition is critical for an antiquarian book.  Markings of any type, tears and fraying of the binding and pages will greatly reduce the worth of a book.


We see a lot of old books that have been stored in an attic where the heat has dried the paper and the binding glue is causing the book to fall apart.


The reverse is true for books that have been in the basement, or near moisture.  Once mold has started in a book, it is nearly impossible to stop.


The Family Bible is worth more to the individuals of the owning family than it is on the book marketplace.  Unless it is pre-1700, those huge Bibles don't have much value.


So, support the libraries of America, and use library book sales.