Book collecting

Explore articles about book collecting and collectible books by AbeBooks staff and expert contributors. Find out how to spot a true Harry Potter first edition, or explore the fine leather-bound books of the Franklin Library. Whether you're an expert book collector or an aspiring one, you'll find all your book collecting content here.

By Sandra Hindman
January 24, 2022
Books of Hours were medieval bestsellers. Sandra Hindman, an expert on medieval manuscripts, explains why these books were, and still are, so important.
8 Min Read
By Jessica Doyle
January 19, 2022
Newbery books have been read by multiple generations in many languages around the world. Some are not only cherished stories, but valuable collectibles too.
November 03, 2021
Discover AbeBooks' most expensive sales in 2021. This list includes a rare illustrated book from the Wild West containing a grim reminder that crime doesn’t pay, an autograph letter from a German author whose writing inspired one of the great ballets, and life advice from Yoko Ono.
August 28, 2021
You don't need to purchase expensive first editions of famous novels or books signed by Nobel Prize winners to have an outstanding rare book collection. If you want to collect books on a budget, here are five ways to acquire affordable collectible books.
1 Min Read
August 18, 2021
Move over Hemingway, Steinbeck and Twain. Humble cookbooks have become highly desirable in the book collecting world.
6 Min Read
By Richard Davies
July 29, 2021
The first edition of Salem's Lot with its original dust jacket is the Holy Grail for collectors of Stephen King books.
1 Min Read
July 28, 2021
AbeBooks' list of most expensive sales in July, August and September 2020 features dinosaurs, the wife of a Beatle, a play that flopped, a piece of pop art, the definitive Beat Generation novel, a book signed by 124 movie stars, and a set of legal thrillers.
By Richard Davies
July 28, 2021
Without doubt, The Savoy Cocktail Book is the coolest book in the world.
3 Min Read
July 27, 2021
AbeBooks' top 10 most expensive sales from January to March 2020
July 13, 2021
Learn about the most common abbreviations of book terms and more in the AbeBooks Book Collecting Guide
1 Min Read
July 10, 2021
A popular way to narrow down a particularly broad area of interest is to focus on a specific time period. If you're a medical professional and find books about surgeries fascinating you might find it less daunting to begin collecting texts strictly from the Victorian era, for example.
1 Min Read
July 10, 2021
Incunabula, also known as incunable and incunabulum, are printed materials, primarily books, created before the start of the 16th century. The printing era began with the creation of moveable type and the Gutenberg Bible in 1455. Discover more about these early printed books which mark the start of mass communication.
3 Min Read
July 10, 2021
Books are good but signed books are better. An autograph from your favorite author can turn a book into a collectible item and increase its value and desirability. Many collectors based their collections around signed books and they are a staple of the rare book business.
1 Min Read
July 10, 2021
There are two main points to consider when looking at an illustration. Who created the illustration, and what artistic method did they use to create it?
4 Min Read
July 10, 2021
Just as many materials can be used to bind books there are also many types of paper used to make book leaves. Without getting into the names for various thicknesses and modern paper types, here is a basic list of paper varieties used in antiquarian and luxury books.
2 Min Read
July 10, 2021
A list of the best books about book collecting including guides for beginner and experienced book collectors. Discover John Carter’s classic ABC for Book Collectors, modern guides to book collecting in the Internet age, and how to identify first editions.
1 Min Read
July 10, 2021
One popular theme for collections is books by your favorite author. This could be as simple as finding a single copy of every title published by your beloved writer, or the more specific goal of finding each first edition.
2 Min Read
July 10, 2021
Some book collectors choose to focus all of their attention on a single title by a particular author. This may sound simple but can become a monumental task depending on the book in question. A classic work - like Shakespeare’s plays or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales - will have been republished hundreds of times in various formats, with different illustrators and different cover art, by different publishers, in different countries, by different translators, and so forth.
2 Min Read
July 10, 2021
Since the first goal of book collecting should be to collect books that you are interested in it shouldn't be much of a surprise that collections will often be built around a specific kind of fiction or non-fiction topic. Even if you do not consider yourself a "book collector" you can probably take a look at your bookshelves and find the beginnings of this kind of collection simply based on your reading tastes.
1 Min Read
July 10, 2021
Fine presses, private presses and small presses vary from traditional publishing houses because of their size, scope and intention. Books produced by these publishers are often adored by collectors who desire books that are not run-of-the-mill.
1 Min Read
July 10, 2021
A collection doesn’t have to be based around a particular author or subject matter, books themselves can be things of beauty and many collections are assembled because the books are presented as pieces of art. Art and literature have been closely linked for centuries, and artists can ply their trade on the cover, the binding and even the edges of the pages.
2 Min Read
July 10, 2021
A pre-first edition is any limited run copy of a book printed before the first standard edition is published. These include advance(d) reader copies (ARCs), galleys, salesman’s editions, proofs and sometimes manuscripts. The importance of these editions varies from collector to collector - some enjoy seeing the evolution of a book from concept to publication while others are only interested in collecting the editions meant for public release.
2 Min Read
By Jessica Doyle
July 06, 2021
We scoured our vast selection of vintage books for the most beautiful dust jackets, and soon discovered that selecting just 30 was a nearly impossible task. This selection ranges from 1917 to 1969, and really is just a drop in the bucket. From abstract design to detailed illustrations, enjoy these gorgeous vintage dust jackets.
2 Min Read
June 15, 2021
Discover AbeBooks' most expensive sales
June 15, 2021
AbeBooks has sold hundreds of copies of Rowling's books at high prices, including a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that sold for $37,000. Do you have a valuable Harry Potter gathering dust under your bed?
June 15, 2021
AbeBooks' top 10 sales from April to June 2020
June 15, 2021
Humble children's books from years past can be immensely valuable, but only if they are the right edition in the right condition. And condition is doubly important when considering the value of children's books.
June 03, 2021
Find early editions, copies in fine bindings and limited edition books of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
4 Min Read
June 03, 2021
A book’s format refers to the shape and dimensions of the physical book. Learn more in our guide to book collecting.
1 Min Read