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Rare Books
Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a book rare?

Since the invention of the printing press in 1436, countless books, pamphlets, magazines, newspapers and broadsides have been published. However, only a small number of these are considered "rare." In simple terms, a book achieves rare status when demand is greater than supply. This means rarity is subjective and there is no special formula -- besides market demand -- to determine a book's importance.

You'll find a staggering amount of valuable and highly collectible books on AbeBooks.co.uk. Our prices range from £1 to over £ 5,000,000.00.

What is the difference between an Antiquarian and rare book?

Antiquarian refers to collecting older/antique books. The age of a book has very little to do with its value. Dealers and collectors consider factors like intrinsic importance, condition, and demand.

How can I find more about the book�s condition?

When you find the book you want, click on the book description to read more about the book�s condition. We have an easy-to-use Glossary of Terms to help you. Our Glossary is broken up into two main sections. The first deals with Book Sizes, Book Condition and Common Abbreviations. The second section is our General Glossary, which lists all other relevant book terms.

What is a first edition?

A "first edition" is a copy of a book printed from the first setting of type. It is the first public appearance of the text in that form. Additional changes to the printed text with corrections of the original typesetting produces different "states" and "issues" but not a new edition.

How do I know if a book is a first edition?

Identifying a first edition is one of the most difficult aspects of collecting books. One of the keys is to verify that the book is at least a first printing. A "number line" on the copyright page often indicates this, with the lowest number being the printing.

We recommend visiting our section of books on collecting books for in depth information about identifying first editions.