How to Date Undated Books

Book Collecting

A reader asks, “I have some really old books, but there is no copyright date or publishing date. What is the best way to determine the age of the book?” This is a great question! Modern books have all sorts of information on the copyright page – the edition/printing, copyright date, and probably the date […]

How to Determine a Book’s Initial Press Run

print run - LisaClarke / Flickr

Recently I’ve received a couple of emails from visitors to this site, who wanted to know how to determine how large a given published book’s initial print run (also known as the first printing, first impression, or press run) was. While there’s no central database, and it takes a bit of digging to get it, […]

Book Bindings:
An Illustrated Guide for Collectors


For this article, we’re going to focus upon the various types of book bindings, and some things that effect their condition. Primary Types of Book Bindings Broadly, there are two kinds of bindings: hardcover, and softcover. The books you’re most likely to find in your local bookstore tend to fall into three variations of these. […]

About Author Signatures, and Signed Books

Confessions of a Writer

There are many kinds of signatures which can be found on books. Below we’ll discuss them, and how each affects the value of a book. You can click on any of the images for a larger view. Types of Author Signatures signed books Signed means the book has been signed by its author (or perhaps […]

Where to Sign a Book

James Mitchell-Flickr

Over the past month, I’ve received emails from two newly-published authors who have upcoming book signing events. They both wanted to know, “Where should I sign the book?” By far the most common place to sign a book is on the title page. Occasionally the half-title is signed, and some authors do sign on the […]

Review – Guide to the Identification of First Editions

Bill McBride’s Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions details the methods over 4,600 different publishers use to identify their first editions. For many years McBride has worked tirelessly to get the latest information, and the latest edition, the 7th, was published in 2012, so it’s very up to date. It’s super easy to […]

Review – Points of Issue: A Compendium of Points of Issue of Books by 19th-20th Century Authors

Bill McBride’s other book, A Guide to the Identification of First Editions, shares the basic methods that individual publishers use for distinguishing first editions from later printings. Points of Issue: A Compendium of Points of Issue of Books by 19th-20th Century Authors is a great companion to that volume. It’s also by Bill McBride, and […]

On Collecting Literary Ephemera

1957 handbill - Amram, Lamantia & Hart / courtesy T.Walden

The term ephemera refers to items, usually printed on paper, which are meant to have a very short life span. These may include tickets, bookmarks, advertisements, event posters, programs, menus, news clippings, business cards, handbills, pamphlets & brochures, greeting cards, invitations, labels, postcards, trading cards, photos, drawings, letters, stickers, and other paper objects of small […]

First Edition Condition


Book Condition & Grading Book collectors generally want books that are in as close to their original condition as possible. Books that appear new & unread (or nearly so), are most desirable. Booksellers and collectors grade books (and dust jackets) using standardized terms: Very Fine is a flawless copy, perfect in every way and probably […]

Should you write a gift inscription in a first edition or collectible book?

copyright Lusi /

Books make thoughtful, personal gifts. Often, the giver would like to write a short note to the recipient inside the book; this is called a gift inscription. It’s worth noting that such inscriptions most often will lower any collectible value of the book. (There are exceptions; gift inscriptions by the author or someone else connected […]