Have you ever stumbled across a beautiful old leatherbound book, picked it up carefully, flipped gently through it’s pages, realized you had found a gem and then, wondered how it’s condition would affect it’s value? Or maybe you’ve found a clothbound copy of THE GREAT GATSBY with a tattered and torn dustjacket and wonder if it’s something special or just a reading copy.
Grading books correctly is an essential skill whether you already have a collection started or if you intend to build a collection soon. You’ll need this skill for describing your books (if you wish to sell them, or for your insurance company) but even more importantly, your skill in grading and in understanding grading will come to your aid each time you consider a purchase for your own collection. Even our frequent collectors who rely on our knowledge to find the right book for their collection, still need to use their grading savvy when we provide them with detailed condition descriptions. Understanding grading standards will assist you time and again as you choose which books to add to your shelves.
I have posted a general Grading Guide for you here and, over the next few months, I’ll add two additional blogposts about Grading — one on grading dustackets, the other on grading books.
A casual reader will certainly be able to appreciate a beautiful First Edition, but for collectors, a book is not only a book, but is an object of art, of beauty and of value. Just as with any object that people collect, the better the condition, the higher the desirability and thus, the better the value. Condition plays a large role in desirability and value for collectible books and the difference between Fair and Fine are vast indeed. Learning about books and how to assess condition is one of the many enjoyable aspects of collecting and one that most collectors quickly take to with glee. Once the basics are learned, the rest comes easily with a bit of time and practice.
Collecting and grading Modern First Edition requires the collector to gain knowledge regarding 1) dustjackets and 2)books. Although some books are published in a special small First Edition, most books are still released in the publishers cloth binding with a paper dustjacket. If you decide to add a book to your collection that was issued with a dustjacket, you will want to make sure the copy you acquire has the original dustjacket still present. Some highly sought-after First Editions are notable exceptions because they are nearly impossible to find with the original dustjacket (The Great Gatsby is one!). It then becomes acceptable to collect the book without it’s jacket or, if you simply have to have a jacket, you can purchase a reproduction of the original for a fairly nominal fee.
Collecting books is FUN! Finding the next book for your collection is one of the best feelings a collector can have. Grading your books is a part of the collector’s process and it soon becomes second nature after you’ve done it a time or three.
You can see our books and our grading of each of them individually here .
I’d love to hear about your special book finds or your stories about books you thought might be something special. Drop a note if you have a story to share.
Happy Book Hunting!