There are a variety of places where you can purchase books for your collection, and a number of things that you should always be cognisant when buying a rare book. 

Rare Book Fairs

A rare book fair is a trade show of sorts where booksellers from a specific region, country, or from across the globe gather, bringing their best and most interesting books to sell.  These events are an excellent chance meet a large number of booksellers and see a vast number of books.

 

An Independent Bookstore

Bookstore

Among independent bookstores which specialize in rare books there are different varieties.  Some will be a traditional bookstore which you have visited, with a store front, regular business hours, and a shop keeper where you can browse and handle various books.  Other more high end rare book stores will more resemble art galleries, again keeping regular hours but very different in appearance.  Different still are the rare booksellers who work out of their home or a small warehouse, sell most of their items via catalog, auction, or the Internet and only open their doors to the public via appointment.  You should never hesitate to set up an appointment with this sort of bookseller but be aware that you should never arrive un-announced.  Lastly there are independent book dealers who conduct their entire business online.

 

Internet

Internet

The Internet has vastly changed the world of bookselling.  Gone are the days of placing a classified advertisement in the AB Bookman magazine explaining your desire to buy a specific volume all in the hopes that a book dealer (or collector) who had the volume on offer also happened to read that specific issue and contact you.  Now a collector can simply search the inventory of booksellers from around the globe from the comfort of their home, and purchase books they require for their collection to be shipped to their doorstep.  On the Internet there are a few different types of businesses that you, as a buyer, should be aware of.


 

Garage Sales, Flea Markets & Thrift Stores

More often than not here is where you will learn that an old book is usually just an old book, but if you really know your stuff occasionally you can find highly interesting books and nearly always at a fantastic bargain price.

 

Auctions or Estate Sales

Whether it’s at a world famous auction house like Christie’s and Sotheby’s or a small auction house in a rural town, auctions can be a fun and exciting way to buy books. Attend previews, do your homework and plan your purchases.

 

Catalogue

Bookseller Catalogues

Booksellers produce catalogs for two reasons, first to highlight the cream of their inventory. Second a bookseller will produce a catalog as means of distinguishing themselves as a destination for the finest books available, and because of this a bookseller can spend an immense amount of time and money to create an amazingly beautiful printed document.

Because they are so meticulously researched and beautifully laid some collectors include the catalogs themselves as part of their collection to be used as bibliographies and conversation pieces.

Catalogs can be very educational and contain a large amount of information relevant to collectors.

Now that you are familiar with the various places you can buy collectible books here are some rules of thumb to contemplate when you are about to purchase a book. These should be considered rough guidelines rather than hard and fast rules, as there are a great many exceptions and the most important thing n is your personal preference.