Chapter 157 More Buying Tips for Booksellers from Susan Halas, Part 1

From Susan Halas, who recently allowed me to repost her opinions on book buying tips for newcomers, here are a few buying tips for booksellers, particularly new ones. Susan owns Prints Pacific, Ltd. in Hawaii, and this new post is reprinted with her permission.

I appreciate Susan’s willingness to share her experiences. Contrary to the idea that sharing information with newcomers creates greater competition, I think that making sure that new booksellers have good basic information elevates the trade as a whole. Additionally, while it’s sometimes painful, competition is good for the market as a whole. So, thank you, Susan, for sharing some of your tips with us.

“Most in books for any length of time probably already know this info but for newcomers here are some questions and answers for book buying situations.

Q Does it have an ISBN number?
A If yes, probably after 1968

Q Does it have a ZIP CODE anywhere
A If yes probably after mid 1960s

Q This is a popular title by a well known author but something about the book, especially the paper looks a a little off (paper too thin). What is it?
A Probably a pirated edition from Taiwan, don’t sell too cheap, pirate editions have a market too, sometimes more than the real thing.

Q. Is it a Book Club edition?
A. Three indicatators of book club editions — no price on the dj, a little dimple (impressed mark) on the back cover near the base of the spine, physical size of the book a little smaller. You are looking at two books that look identical, the smaller one is probably book club.

Q. You are looking through hundreds of cheap paperbacks for something of value, what are you looking for?
A Size smaller, the older paperbacks were a little bit shorter than the current size, you can see it on the shelf, look for the one(s) that are shorter. Cover price — the lower the cover price the earlier the issue. Collectible artist who signed the cover — look at the art work, 40s/50spulp art has a following especially if in color and about sex, SciFi or drugs other vices. Think lurid.

Q It looks like a real photo, how can I tell if it is authentic or a later copy?
A Real photo has an emulsion (coated and kind of shinny or creamy on one side). No dots on real photo. (use your magnifying glass, if you see printing dots 99.9 per cent chance a repro, copy or even copy of a copy). Look at back, is there a stamp of a photographer, news agency, id mark? if
yes a very good sign.

Q. What can I tell by looking/feeling the paper
A: Older paper, (pre 1850s), made mostly of rags, has a cloth like feel, wears like iron, can be thick or thin, but doesn’t flake, chip, break, etc like later paper. Paper after 1850s has lots of wood pulp, makes it brittle, browns, chips, flakes, tears, more fragile. Rag paper sign of mid 19th century or earlier

Q Does size matter?
A. Yes in hard cover vintage books the earlier editions are usually larger and they get progressively smaller as they go through later editions. Two identical books from late 19th to mid 20th century, the smaller one is the later edition or the Book Club edition. Hardcover smaller is later

Just the reverse in vintage paper back books — in paperbacks two identical books — the bigger one is the later one even if price and number the same. Paperbacks Bigger is later.”

To Be Continued Tomorrow


Filed under Book Finds, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Chapter 157 More Buying Tips for Booksellers from Susan Halas, Part 1

  1. Chris Smith

    Thanks for re-posting this!!!

    I typically don’t have any trouble finding interesting books and ephemera, but my problem is getting rid of it. I understand having a catalog along a theme of interest, but what are some good ways to find buyers for one-off type books that would be of interest/value to someone, but don’t fit with your catalog?

    Many thanks!
    Chris Smith
    Doulos Christou Books

  2. Hi Chris,

    I save my “one-off” type books for book fairs, posting for sale on to other booksellers on the Bibliophile and Rare Books email lists, featuring for a week on my website, or ebay. I think there are a lot of possiblities for these books. If you need to sell a one-off book quickly and don’t have an immediate customer for it, I think the best bet is to offer it to another bookseller who specializes in the subject of the book in question. Hope this helps.

    Chris Lowenstein

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