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How to Value a Book Collection

Mar 18, 2021

If you own books, you will need to know how to value a book collection whether you own a full collection or have a book which you believe could be worth a significant amount of money. Whatever your circumstances, it is important to understand how much your possessions are potentially worth so that you can take steps to protect your items.

How to value book collections

Valuing individual books

There are a number of ways that you can get an idea of how much individual books may be worth.

Internet searches

Internet searches can be a good place to start when it comes to getting an idea of how much a book is worth.

An internet search can help you find out how much similar copies of a book are being offered for sale at. Giving you an indication of how much your book may be worth.

Do be careful with internet searches, however. Whilst they can give you a good indication of likely value of a book, they do not take into account the condition of your actual copy. It is said that condition is one of the most important factors in a books value – what could be worth a lot of money in good condition could be worth next to nothing in poor condition. So, you’ll need to keep this in mind if you are looking for an accurate valuation of your book.

Auction sales prices

Another way to get an idea of how much a book may be worth is to check the auction house sales lists to find out how much books similar to yours have sold for. Tracking how much a book has sold for over a set time period at auction can give you a good guide to how much your book may be worth.

Websites such as Sotheby’s or other big auction houses may be worth visiting to help you carry out your research.


Depending on how accurate you want the valuation to be you can also consider hiring an appraiser to value your book. Hiring an appraiser is likely to be the way to get the most accurate valuation of the book. Appraisers are typically hired when someone wants their book or book collection valued for insurance purposes, for reasons linked to inheritance or if you want to make a charitable donation.

A book appraiser will typically charge for their service and they will be able to give you a valuation based on the typical average market value for your book. Bear in mind that in their capacity as a book appraiser, the appraiser should not offer to buy your book once they have valued it – they should give a fair market value not a figure that they would pay for the book.

Valuing a full book collection

If you want to value a full book collection, then you can use any of the methods listed above. If you want a book collection valued for insurance purposes, inheritance reasons or are a collector who needs an accurate valuation then using an appraiser is likely to be the option best suited to you.

What are the most valuable types of books?

Old doesn’t necessarily mean valuable when it comes to books. Many factors play into which books will be valuable and which will not be.

This Sotheby’s article highlights 10 things that make books valuable including factors such as

  • Condition
  • First books
  • Completeness
  • Provenance
  • Rarity

Examples of book collections

Many rare book collections are held by museums, universities and charities. But there are also many examples of privately owned book collections.

Take a look at this list of rare editions of famous books and how much they are worth  to get an idea of just how much books can be worth.

If you own a valuable book or book collection, then it is important to have insurance in place to protect your valuable items. Getting a book collection valued will enable to you identify the need for insurance and understand what level of cover you require. You may want to consider taking out a high net worth insurancepolicy, which is designed to provide cover for high value, sometimes specialist items. Get in touch with us at Anthony Jones today to discuss your high net worth insurance needs on 0208 8290 9086 or email us at personal@anthonyjones.com

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