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What to Do With the First Editions in Your Book Collection



First editions can sell for hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. These literary rarities aren’t just fascinating and beautiful historical artifacts; they’re absolute catnip for collectors.

So if you have a few first edition books rattling around in your personal library, what should you do with them? Sell them off? Try to preserve them? Even donate them to a museum?

There are various options, and we’re here to give you the low-down a few of the most significant ones. So sit back, settle in, and crack open a book; we’re going, full bibliophile.

Sorting First Editions from the Seconds (and Thirds, and Fourths…)

You might think it would be simple to identify your first editions. Perhaps a publisher’s note at the very beginning, or a marking on the back, or something else immediate and obvious.

Well, no such luck. Different publishers have different ways of communicating the editions of different prints. When you’re dealing with first editions from the early 20th or even 19th centuries, you might be lucky to see any sign at all.

There are a few tips you can use when deciding how to tell if a book is a first edition, though. For example, if you find that the date on the title is the same as the date on the copyright, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a first edition.

You can also always Google the precise book you have to find out if there are any specific peculiarities that might mark out your copy as a first edition. A first edition might have a typographical error that was corrected later on, for example.

For example, you can tell if you have a hyper-rare Harry Potter first edition by whether it credits ‘Joanne’ Rowling instead of ‘JK’!

Check out for a bit more knowledge on picking out first editions.

What Should You Do With Your First Edition Books?

Once you’ve established that you possess a genuine first edition, what should you do with it?

Well, the obvious answer is to sell them to a collector (unless you want to start collecting yourself), but where do you do that?

Places like eBay let you easily match your book to a buyer, but what if you want to make sure it goes to a good home?

In that case, have a look around your local town or city for an antiquarian book dealer. These guys specialize in maintaining, selling, and appreciating the beauty of a first edition. If you want to ensure your book finds a good home, why not check them out?

Hooray for the Bibliophiles

And there you go, a few handy tips when it comes to identifying and passing on your first editions. Whether you’re an experienced collector or an amateur librarian, you’ll no doubt find a lot to think about in these simple words of wisdom.

Now get out there and get rummaging through your shelves!

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I'm Nikos Alepidis, blogger at motivirus. I'm passioned for all things related to motivation & personal development. My goal is to help and inspire people to become better.

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