How to Find Collectible Books – On Your Own Terms

Two things I particularly love about book collecting:

  1. It is a game, and
  2. I get to make up (some of) the rules.
Edward Stratemeyer's Under Dewey at Manila, part of the Old Glory series and one of the few books Stratemeyer wrote under his own name. Also, the newest addition to my personal collection, at $3.50.

Not all the rules are free for interpretation.  The ones that aren’t are mostly dictated by market forces – scarce books are worth more than common ones, books in good condition are worth more than beat-up ones, and so on.

But the beauty of scouting books, especially for your own collection, is that you really can do it on any budget and at any price point.  I make approximately $30,000 per year as a freelance writer, and I pay hefty medical bills – yet I can also support my book-collecting habit easily on less than $50.00 per month.

Here are my personal rules for finding and buying collectible books:

1.  If I spend more than $30.00 in any one shop, I’m doing it wrong.
2.  I shall never pay more than $1.00 for a paperback or $2.00 for a hardcover unless I am absolutely certain the book will sell for at least three times (3x) the asking price, or it’s a fair market price for a book I plan to add to my personal collection.

3.  If it’s not a first edition, I can’t afford it.  Not even if it’s free.

4.  I may only buy as many books as I am physically able to carry to the register in one trip.

5.  I will let go of my mistakes.

Your rules, of course, may vary.  But these are the rules by which I play the game.  Here’s why: