Rare Books

Tips for finding affordable collectible books

Who says book collecting has to break the bank? You don't need to purchase expensive first editions of famous novels or books signed by Nobel Prize winners to have an outstanding book collection. If you want to collect books on a budget, here are five ways to acquire collectible books without upsetting your bank manager. Our Guide to Book Collecting is also a useful resource.

Collect authors who frequently sign books

Some bestselling authors are famous for being generous signers and frequently appear at bookstore events and literary festivals where they sign hundreds of copies in a single session. A plentiful supply of signed copies keeps prices low. These epic book signers include David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, Ken Follett, Salmon Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Patrick Ness, and Colson Whitehead. Use our signed books page.

Collect Folio Society books

The Folio Society is half publisher, half book club (as it has members) and was founded in 1947 on the principle that books should be beautiful to the eye as well as captivating to the mind. The Folio Society's formula for success is publishing books with exceptional typography, illustrations, paper and bindings. Some scarce editions attract high prices but AbeBooks offers thousands of Folio Society books priced under $10.

Collect vintage paperbacks

Launched in 1924, Penguin paperbacks were designed to be affordable and easy to carry. Penguin founder Allen Lane wanted to make quality literature accessible to everyone. Today, vintage Penguins can be picked up cheaply and are easy to find. They also look impressive on any bookshelf thanks to their color scheme. Orange for fiction, green for crime, pink for travel and adventure, dark blue for biographies and memoirs, red for drama, purple for essays, and yellow for miscellaneous.

Collect books by era

Our Advanced Search page makes it easy to find books from a distinct time period. You will see a large number of affordable used and vintage books when browsing in this way. By narrowing your search results to a particular decade, you can find interesting books by adding a keyword like Art Deco or Cold War.

Collect later printings

True first editions (that's the first appearance of a work) have the highest prices. But you can build an amazing collection by focusing on later printings which are more affordable. If a book was first published in the United States, look for the first British edition, or first illustrated edition, or a second or third printing in the best possible condition.


More collectible books

Explore articles about book collecting and collectible books by AbeBooks staff and expert contributors.
July 05, 2023
Welcome to our most expensive sales in April, May and June 2023. Our list features illustrated books, signed books, autographs, original art, a manuscript, and a rare facsimile.
April 14, 2023
Our list includes a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which became AbeBooks’ second most expensive sale of all time.
November 28, 2022
The list includes a book about Italian architecture and a landmark book about the stock market. There is also an illustrated poetry book and a famous novel about time travel.