How to Find Out How Much Your Old Books Are Worth

Updated November 21, 2016

If you happen to have a few well-maintained, old books lying around, chances are you've considered selling them to make some extra money. Perhaps the most difficult part of the antique bookselling process is determining the current market value for these ageing tomes. While figuring out just how much your old books are worth isn't always easy to verify, there are a number of ways to get a reliable ballpark figure.

Start by figuring out the print edition and print year of each book; keeping an eye out for valuable first editions. This information can sometimes be found on the title page, copyright page or following pages. Also check to see whether the book is labelled either on the front or back cover as a "special edition" or a "book club edition." The older the book is, and the more unique it is, the more money it should be worth.

Head to the library and check out some book value guides, or invest in a few of these books to help determine how much your old books are worth. A couple of reliable book pricing guides include "Mandeville's Used Book Price Guide" and "The Insider's Guide to Old Books, Magazines, Newspapers and Trade Catalogs" by Ron Barlow and Ray Reynolds.

Use these book guides to check whether the particular books you have on hand are listed. Within the guides, suggested market values are given for each book, taking into consideration the printing edition plus the current condition of the book. For example, a book considered to be in "fine" or "good" condition would be worth more than one that is judged simply "acceptable." These guides usually include detailed descriptions of requirements for a book to be deemed "acceptable," "fine" or in "good" condition.

Visit as many antique bookstores and book fairs as possible, and ask booksellers how much they would be willing to spend on your books to get a more precise idea of their value. Keep in mind that booksellers will need to buy a used copy for less than they plan to sell it. Antique booksellers will also likely consider how quickly the book can be resold when deciding how much to pay for your old book.


Get your hands on as much information as you can about bookselling to gain a better understanding of book values and to build up your overall knowledge base about the process. Look to books about collecting in addition to reliable Internet sources.

Things You'll Need

  • Book value guides
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author