The value of books on the secondary market


Fair market value of books on second hand

Since the emergence of digital books and the growing popularity of libraries (following the many movements against overconsumption), it must be admitted that used books, even in good condition, don’t find so many takers, except at low prices. Flea markets, secondhand markets and online sales networks are full of low-cost books.

But then, what is the definition of a book with ” monetary value “?

*The rarity is a must: an old book corresponds to the works written since the beginning of printing from the year 1450 to the Industrial Revolution, at the beginning of the 19th century, or during the artisanal printing period. But not all rare or old books are necessarily precious. Conversely, not all rare books are old! Some of them, of poor quality and produced in large quantities, will not be of interest to collectors.

According to the Université de Montréal library, the definition of a rare book is: it’s a work that has sufficient interest to be collected and preserved, regardless of its age. What makes a book rare and valuable is a combination of several factors:

  1. The substantive importance and value of the book’s content: a timeless literary text, a work that has marked the history of ideas, an important scientific work or a story with a historical context.
  2. Aesthetic appearance: a book can be coveted for the quality of its images, the beauty of its binding and typography or an exceptional layout.
  3. Provenance: books that have traditionally belonged to famous writers or great historical figures have always aroused the interest of collectors, especially when they are annotated and signed.
  4. First editions: great interest in the first book by a now famous author. The first editions of a work are also more in demand.
  5. State of preservation: As a general rule, the closer its current state comes to its original state, the more valuable it is.

Some works have reached staggering records, such as the very first compilation of William Shakespeare’s theatrical works “First Folio, 1623”, which sold for more than 2 million euros.

In short, if the book arouses great interest and the number of copies is limited, it becomes a coveted object and its value increases.


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