Like any field of endeavor, the rare book sector has its rituals and quirks, habits and history, secrets and jargon. Unlike some other trades, book dealers have never been scared to commit their insights, secrets, and memories to paper. There are numerous fascinating and educational books detailing the inner workings of the rare book industry. Dealers and collectors have created this list of the top books every book collector should read.
ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter
The classic reference work on book terminology. First published in 1952, the current edition has been updated to include newer terms and jargon spawned by the internet. With humor and wit, John Carter and Nicholas Barker uncover the true meaning from phrases that, although once more-common, now appear obscure outside of rare book circles.
In a field where it’s crucial that buyers and sellers know what they’re talking about, ABC for Book Collectors is a great guide to our common language.
After one learns the wording used in the used book sector, the next thing one needs is a guide to spotting which copy is of value and which just interesting. While friendship with an experienced rare book dealer is the best way to get this information, there are many good books that serious collectors and ABAA members keep on hand for quick reference.
Collected Books: The Guide to Values by Allen and Patricia Ahearn
Written by ABAA members Allen and Patricia Ahearn of Quill and Brush, Collected Books: The Guide to Values has information on some of the most well-known collected books, offers notes on discerning one edition from another, and guidelines on usual prices for collectible copies.
Noted rare book expert and book collector Nicholas Basbanes declared “If any single item can be considered essential equipment for today’s book collector, it is Collected Books.”