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How to Know if an Old Book Has Value

Estate sales in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and Olympia often feature bookshelves full of well-loved books. From non-fiction, to classic novels these books were appreciated and treasured by their owners. But when it comes to selling, how can you determine an old book’s value?

But before we talk about how to know if you book has value, you need to know how to find critical information about the book, like its first printing date.

  • Locate the copyright page – it’s usually one the first few pages

  • Find the edition details. This is where you will find out whether your book is a first or second edition.

And here’s a pro tip, don’t rule out children’s books. Some can fetch quite the profit! At the 2019 New York Antiquarian Book Fair’s Discovery Day, an author from Forbes was able to lay eyes on a 1925 12-page accordion style children’s book that illustrated the story of Noah’s Ark. It’s value, $2,750!

It’s a First or Second Edition

In the world of collecting, a first edition refers to the book’s first year of production, and it’s quite a process to determine a book’s edition. Check out to learn more about identifying the edition of your book. But if it has more than one publication date, it’s likely not a first edition.


Like with any other older item that’s looking to be sold, the condition of the book will have an impact on the price. Simply put, buyers and collectors want an aesthetically pleasing book.

You’ll also want to make sure you have the book’s dust jacket. Nearly all hard cover books sold in the 20th century came with a dust jacket. If you have it, and it’s in good condition, be sure to keep with the book.


This is where a reputable estate sale company is invaluable, as we can help you determine the true demand for the book. Our expertise, along with online tools can quickly check the supply and demand for any book, providing you with the information you need.

What’s Not of Value

Book Club editions, family Bibles and encyclopedias are worth very little. In the book collecting world, Book Club editions are viewed the same as rookie baseball cards and have very little value. Bibles carry more sentimental value than monetary value, and many encyclopedias are now outdated.

If you have a large collection of books that needs to be sold, contact us. We can help you evaluate what you have and will price it correctly for sale.

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