Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you have any books or other items that are not listed on your website?
Yes, we do. At any given time we probably have a couple of thousand things that you won’t find on-line here at Read’Em Again Books. Many we simply haven't yet cataloged. If you are looking for something, just send us an email, and we'll be pleased to check our stock.
Frequently, we sell books in eBay auctions that are not listed at this website; this link will take you to any eBay auction lots that we may currently have listed.
2. Will you help me find a book if you don’t have it on-hand? What about letters, photographs, scrapbooks or other paper collectibles about a specific topic or person?
If you are a regular customer or if you are a new customer who would like our assistance in helping you build a quality collection, you bet we will.
On the other hand, if you are simply looking for one or several inexpensive books, probably not. That said, we encourgage you to let us know your interests by email or through the Topic Notification service found in the left column of most pages. Once you do that, you'll automatically be notified when we list new materials in your field(s) of interest.
3. How do you pack and ship the books and other items that you sell?
We normally ship most books with padded protection inside standard or adjustable boxes. Paperbacks are usually shipped with stiff cardboard protection. Sheet music is shipped flat. Prints and maps will either be shipped flat or rolled in a cylindrical tube; if you have preference let us know.
Of the thousands of books we've packed this way since we've been in business, we've only had one item damaged in shipment, and it was run over by a post office truck and would have been ruined no matter how much paper, bubblewrap, padding, or cardboard was used to protect it. That said, if you have any special packing requests, let us know, and we may be able to accommodate them.
Domestic shipping by our default methods of delivery confirmed USPS Media Mail or First Class Mail is free of charge. We will ship by Priority Mail, Express Mail, UPS, and FEDEX when requested, however additional charges may apply. Insurance—our own, not USPS—is included at no extra cost when shipped by these means; you may also purchase USPS postal insurance if you desire, but it really isn’t necessary.
4. Will you ship outside of the United States?
Yes, we ship outside of the United States all the time. We only ship outside the United States by USPS Priority Mail International, USPS Express Mail International, or USPS Registered First Class Mail International. Please don't ask us to enter false values on customs documents. We won't do it. It is against the law and would negate our insurance coverage. If you are buying from outside of the United States, please take your country's customs costs into consideration before placing an order.
5. If I buy a book and don’t like it, may I return it for a refund? What about other paper collectibles?
Unless specifically noted in one of our descriptions, we accept book returns for any reason for full refund (less any shipping and insurance fees) if we receive a returned book within ten days of your receipt, we are notified of the return in advance, and the book is returned in the exact same condition it was sent.
In the unlikely event that any book you receive from us is ever determined to have it’s publishing/edition data incorrectly described or any signature found to be inauthentic, we will provide a full refund (to include shipping) at any time if returned by the original purchaser in the same condition as sent.
For most other paper collectibles including postal history we will accept returns for any reason as well. However, on a case-by-case basis, it is possible that we may not accept returns of letters, documents, and photographs with unique or historic content that is unavailable elsewhere. In the past, unscrupulous customers have returned items like this after making digital copies for research use and/or publication.
6. Do you ever issue catalogs?
Yes, we usually issue at least four catalogs each year. When we do, we post them to this website and send them by email to customers who have purchased books from us in the past or have asked to be on our mailing list. If you’d like to be sure that you are included on our mailing list the next time we send out an e-mail catalog, please establish an account at this website or send an email to email@example.com. Additionally, we often distribute these catalogs in physical form at book fairs.
7. Do you buy books and other old stuff?
Yes, we have to buy the things that we sell. Seldom have we received any sellable books as gifts, although this did happen twice; both times from frustrated antique dealers who just wanted to get rid of their book inventory.
We generally only buy quality books and ephemera that interest us and that we believe are sellable. We will always buy unique diaries, journals, ledgers, correspondence collections, photograph albums, scrapbooks, and similar material that in some way tell an interesting story about life in America. Right now, we're also buying better illustrated books, cook books, cocktail books, movable books, Americana, sports books, unusual non-fiction that piques our interest, as well as sheet music, advertising paper, and other interesting ephemera.
If you have something you’d like to sell, please send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us a little about it (for a book this should include its title, author, and publisher). There’s no need to provide more information than that in your first e-mail message. We’ll review your message and reply asking for more information about things that we may be interested in buying. After we receive the additional information, we’ll be able to provide you with a tentative offer subject to our examination of the items. We can then make arrangements to meet and complete the transaction or you can send your items to us. If you send your things to us, we will promptly examine them and send you payment and/or return the materials that don't meet our needs.
There are some types of books that we almost never (knowingly) buy. They are book club editions, fiction (except for association copies or first, limited or special editions), damaged books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and most importantly, inexpensive common titles that that are already commonly available for sale on the internet.
8. Why should I sell my books or paper collectibles to you, or any other dealer, when you are going sell them to another collector at a higher price? Why don’t I just do that myself?
That’s a good question. We know several part-time dealers who started selling books for just that reason, and you may enjoy selling books too. The big problem, though, is that you will need to find customers who want to buy your books, and that's not easy. So . . . if you are only looking to turn your on-hand books into cash, selling them yourself probably isn’t for you. You can open your own on-line bookstore and sell books via the internet, but you’ll incur significant costs to do so, you’ll have to comply with your state’s business and tax laws, it will likely be a while before you master writing descriptions that attract buyers, and you‘ll probably find that it takes what seems to be an eternity for your books to sell. As an alternative, you could try to sell your books via eBay auctions, but you may take a significant loss, or if you price them too high, the books may not sell at all, and you’ll still be out the numerous auction listing fees. However, if you sell your books to a dealer—us included—you will turn them into immediate cash.
9. Will you sell my books or paper collectibles for me on consignment?
Possilby, but not unless what you have is exceptionally scarce, exceptionally desireable, and/or exceptionally valuable. We have a hard enough time keeping up with our own inventory. If you’d like to sell your books to us, please see the answer to Question #7 above.
10. Will you appraise my books, ephemera, or stamps?
Yes, we will, and we are well-qualified to do so.
Kurt Sanftleben is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America, a member of the ABAA, APS, and NSDA. Additionally he has earned a Certificate of Profiency from the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. He will conduct appraisals for many reasons including valuing a collection or individual item for potential sale, insurance purposes, equitable gift distribution, prenuptial agreements, divorce settlements, or simply general information.
He will also conduct appraisals for IRS-related situations including estate settlements, deductible gifts, and high-dollar charitable donations. IRS-related proposals require exceptionally strict professional appraiser qualifications that the overwhelming majority of booksellers simply do not meet (even if they insist that they do). Before you contract with a bookseller to conduct an IRS-related appraisal, we recommend that you read tax lawyer and ABAA bookseller Bruce H. Barnett’s definitive essay on the subject, So, You Think You’re an Appraiser!
Our fees vary based on the complexity of the appraisal. For small and simple appraisals, the cost may be no more than $100. On the other hand, we charge an hourly rate of $125/hour to conduct large, complex appraisals.
If you decide that you would like us to appraise your book, paper, or stamp collection, you should be aware that we—like all booksellers and stamp dealers who would provide you with such an appraisal—are then ethically bound not to subsequently purchase your books.
If you simply want us to make an offer to buy your books, that is something else entirely, and we don’t charge for that. (See the answer to Question #7 above.)
If you would like more information about our appraisal services, please contact us at email@example.com.
11. Have you read all of the books that you sell? What about letters and other documents?
When it comes to books, no, not hardly. We’ve read some of them, but please don’t expect that we’ll be able to answer questions about the plot of Tom Swift and His Ocean Airport or any of the biographical details provided in Henry Howe’s Historical Collections of Virginia.
On the other hand, we've read every letter, document, or other manuscript item in our inventory, and we usually will provide a typed transcript of the item to purchasing customers; (sorry, you'll only get a transcript if you buy the items.
12. What is the rarest/oldest/most expensive book that you have sold?
When it comes to true rarities, our stock is rather sparse. The preponderance of our sales are in the $100 to $2,000 range. That said, we have sold many items for between $2,000 and $10,000 and a number for between $10,000 and $25,000. The oldest thing that we have sold was a leaf from a 12th century illuminated manuscript.
13. How can I tell if my book is a first edition?
We recommend consulting a specialized bibliography or similar reference work. Many of these are quite expensive (and elusive), so your best bet may be to ask for the work at your local library; if they don’t have it, they can get it via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). We think that the best guides to modern first (fiction) editions are the Author Price Guides published by Quill & Brush Books and the Bibliography of American Literature. You can also consult a general purpose work like Bill McBride’s Points of Issue or A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions; they both sell for around $16.00. There are also some websites that provide similar information to the McBride guides.
Since we're talking about first editions, you must be careful when buying them. Many booksellers on all of the different venues, but especially eBay and Amazon, may claim a book is a first edition, but when they use the term, it is not the same as a first printing. When knowledgeable book collectors or reputable booksellers speak of a "first edition," they are speaking of a "first edition, first printing, first state/issue/binding." Most assuredly, they are not speaking of a first edition, 32nd printing. They are also not speaking of a first book club edition. When you see the term "first edition" in any of our listings--without any other qualification--that means the book is a "first edition, first printing, first state/issue/binding." If you find a book, described by an eBay, Amazon, Alibris, AbeBooks, or Biblio seller as a "first edition," contact the seller before you place an order to be sure you are going to get exactly what you want; many of the booksellers who list on these sites routinely mis-describe first editions either through ignorance or a purposeful intent to deceive new collectors.
14. What’s with dust jackets; is it really that important for a book to have one?
Yes, and no. For the most part, it is simply a matter of supply and demand. Any modern fiction book published after 1920 is almost impossible to sell as a collectible without a dust jacket. Fiction published before 1920 may be sellable without a dust jacket, but the value of the book will ususually increase by a factor of four or five, or possibly even ten, if it has one.
You may encounter books with facsimile dust jackets. The truth of the matter is that although some dealers add a hefty premium to a book with a facsimile dust jacket, facsimile dust jackets add nothing to the value of books. Some dealers refuse to ever sell a book with a facsimile dust jacket. Others may sell an occasional book with a facsimile dust jacket at no additional premium if it had the jacket when they acquired it. We're of the latter camp; if we buy a book with a facsimile jacket, we’ll leave it on the book when we sell it, but be sure that we didn’t pay a premium for it, and we won’t charge a premium for it either.
For non-fiction books, dust jackets may add some value to a book, but usually not to the same extent as modern fiction.
15. Where can I get those clear, plastic covers that I see on some dust jackets? What about those protective mylar envelopes and backing cards you use for other paper collectibles? How about other supplies to protect or ship items in my collection?
The protective, clear, plastic dust jacket covers are available on-line from any of the major library supply companies, e.g., Gaylord, Broadart, Demco, etc. If you decide to use these protective covers, I recommend that you only purchase ones that meet archival standards. If you don’t, you run the risk that, over time, the chemicals in the covers may cause damage to your dust jackets or books.
Protective mylar envelopes, backing cards, collection protection items, and shipping supplies are available from a number of online companies. The two that we frequently use are ULINE and Bags Unlimited.
16. My book is signed by the author; how can I be sure the signature is authentic?
The only absolutely sure way to tell if the signature in your book is authentic is to witness the author doing the signing. The next best way is to have the signature authenticated by a recognized expert. An explosion of “flat-signed” first edition novels, whose authenticity is questionable, has hit the internet market—especially eBay and Amazon—in recent years. A general rule of thumb is that if there is also some type of personalized inscription or statement of provenance accompanying the signature, it is far more likely to be genuine than a “flat-signed” autograph without an inscription. Additionally, if the signed book is a later printing and not a first edition, a signature is far more likely to be real; crooks investing the time and effort to forge signatures have long known that they can make much more money doing so with firsts in excellent condition than later printings that show some wear.
By the way, if you ever encounter a book described by a bookseller as "flat-signed," our advice is to avoid both like they carry the plague. Knowledgeable and reputable dealers simply don't use that term when describing books. If you are dealing with someone who does, use extreme caution. Various bookseller message boards and blogs are rife with reports of unsigned books being sold and then later turning up on-line--primarily, but not only, at Amazon and eBay--as "genuine flat-signed" editions by the person(s) who bought the books.
17. When I bought a book (or document, map, etc.), it came with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) from the seller. Does this make it more valuable? What about stamps or postal history?
Probably not. Most Certificates of Authenticity are a dime a dozen; anyone can print one up. They are especially prevalent among some sellers on eBay. We're skeptical people, so we are always suspicious of dealers (unless they sell autographs, stamps or baseball cards) who offer such incentives as part of their marketing scheme.
On the other hand, certificates by three well-known companies (Global Authentics LLC, James Spence Authentication, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA)/DNA) will add value to autographs, baseball cards, and some paper memorabilia. That said, if you check online, you'll find many collectors who question certificates issued by these companies.
For stamps and postal history, certifications issued by The Philatelic Foundation, American Philatelic Expertizing Service (APEX) , or the Confederate Stamp Alliance are golden. They will usually add considerable value to a rare or scarce item. Certifications from other firms or organizations usually will not.
If you are considering buying an expensive book, map, document, or similar collectible, we recommend only buying from a dealer who is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA). The ABAA is the oldest association of professional antiquarian booksellers in America, and membership cannot be obtained simply by paying a fee or signing an agreement. Before even being considered for membership, dealers must prove that they are established, knowledgeable, and of excellent reputation. Prospective members must be sponsored by current members, and undergo a rigorous screening process. The average ABAA member has been in the antiquarian book business more than twenty years, and the association requires members to follow its Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct.
Paragraph 5 of the ABAA Code of Ethics states, "An Association member shall vouch for the authenticity of all materials offered for sale. . . . Should it be determined that material offered as authentic is not authentic or is questionable, that material shall be returnable for a full cash refund or other mutually agreeable arrangement.
If you are buying an expensive philatelic item, we recommend only buying from a member of the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA), the National Stamp Dealers Association (NSDA), or an American Philatelic Society member who is also listed in the APS Dealers Directory.
We don't issue COAs; your purchase receipt documents our ABAA/NSDA guarantee. We will accept a return at any time for a full refund including shipping if a recognized expert determines something purchased from us is not authentic, provided the item is returned to us by the original purchaser in the same condition as it was sent.
18. It sounds like you are down on eBay. I thought eBay was a good place to buy and sell collectible books and paper; is it?
Possibly, yes. We’d estimate that well over 95% of the 'collectible' books for sale on eBay are either damaged, mis-described, or not worth the cost to ship them via media mail. The eBay bookselling world has been inundated with both novices and crooks. If you decide to buy books that are listed on eBay, pay close attention to a seller’s feedback; avoid bidding on any auction unless the seller has a feedback rating above 99% positive. Even that is no guarantee that the seller is either honest or knowledgeable; however, it’s a start. If publishing data and condition descriptions are not provided in detail—and preferably supported with photographs or scans—you’re better off passing on the item.
With regard to paper collectibles, it's a crapshoot. Ebay is swamped with paper 'collectibles' of all kinds. You have to search through tons of chaff to find something of value, but it can be worth the effort. Do beware, however that many, many listings of paper collectibles are not for original items. Whether through ignorance or intentional deceit, many sellers identify these reprints, replicas, and forgeries as originals. Especially beware of Lincoln assassination newspapers, Declarations of Independence, and printed materials related to slavery, especially slave sale broadsides. (The late Americana expert Bill Reese published an excellent article on fake slave sale broadsides). If you see something that looks like an obvious rarity listed on eBay, the overwhelming odds are it is is not genuine. Save yourself some later heartbreak; unless you willing to take a gamble, buy things like this only from dealers who are members of well-established professional trade associations like those mentioned above.