OK, so you have an old book and you’ve determined it to be a 1st edition, now you want to know what it’s worth, right? Not easy, but do-able if you have a discerning mind or the dough to pay an expert (like me) to find out. Before conferring with an expert, try it yourself first!
Start here: www.BookFinder.com. This isn’t the only site that might help, but it is a good place to start because it’s free and comprehensive (so is ABE, Alibris, and Amazon, by the way). Once on that site you’ll see a familiar search engine thing on your screen, which is self explanatory. Use it. Type in your info. It will then spew out a laundry list of whatever title it is that you’re searching for. Because the list is probably as long as your drive to work, you’re on the verge of throwing up your arms and go running through the bushes. Don’t. There’s poison ivy out there.
Instead, use your shopping skills. Yeah, that’s right. The same intuition that you use to buy something on the cheap and the same eye you use to pair shoes with a belt or something else in your wardrobe. That laundry list of the title that you’re looking for is what’s available — right now — in the marketplace. An hour from now it might be different but all those entries represent the current inventory from all of the booksellers that have the same title for sale, who the seller is, where the seller is, condition of the book, shipping cost, etc.
Alright, now comes the hard part: winnowing. That means sorting, triaging, tossing out the wild cards. All the entries on sale on Rodeo Drive, no good. You ain’t on Rodeo Drive, sister. Out they go and the same for all entries in Hollow Stump, Arkansas. You don’t live there either. Look for the sellers that make sense to your geographic location. Second, you need to compare your book’s condition to a chart defining book condition. That’s tough because that is very subjective. There are a lot of variables. Do the best that you can and Google ‘book condition’ within quotes to discover all about that.
Now value. If you have a winnowed list of, oh, ten examples with a range of from $45 to $85, then use the high number for replacement value and HALF the lower number for Fair Market Value (if you’re going to sell it).
But, what if your title does not yield results when you do a search? Well, one of two things might be the case:
1. Your book is so rare that none are presently available in the marketplace. Or,
2. Your book is so worthless no seller has bothered to list it.
Stay out of the bushes.