Many people are collectors of old and antique books, and there is a wide market for this area of the antique business. Often, the book will have to have more than just age to warrant interest in it,with books being collectable if they are about an interesting subject, are first editions of well-known books, or are valuable for some other specific reason. Generally, only books from the first half of the eighteenth century, and earlier, are interesting purely because of their age.
Antique book collectors tend to focus upon one subject or interest within the wider world of book collecting. So for example, a collector may only be interested in first-edition Dickens novels or novels by women. Some books have fierce rivalry between collectors, and others are valued only by a few, specialist collectors. This can make selling an old book slightly harder, particularly where there are no antique book collectors nearby.
Rare books are perhaps the most eagerly sought, and their lack of availability can increase their price significantly. However, even very rare books will vary in price, depending upon their relative scarcity, and any damage that might have occurred to the book during its use. Factors which affect scarcity include the type of cover, the jacket, the illustrations, or the overall condition of the book.
Overall condition is very important to collectors, and can have an effect on the price of the book. The closer the book is to its original condition, the more likely it is to be highly prized.Another way for antique books to stand out from their relatives is through association. If the works have been signed by the author, for example, or if there is evidence that they have been owned by a significantly famous person (perhaps another author, as part of their personal library), then the book is likely to sell well.