Collectors Might Be Surprised That Rare Books Are Rare

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Rare books are harder to find than many amateur collectors think, and its more probable that buying old books leads to hoarding rather than a big payday. Its highly unlikely, for instance, for a library to accidentally sell off an expensive treasure, since most institutions check books against databases before selling off their stock. Most books just aren’t worth very much except as personal nostalgia. Ann Connery Frantz recommends readers interested in rare books stick with dealers instead of hoping for the best at thrift shops.


Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →