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, and many are located at our antique mall booth in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  If you are looking for specific titles or subject matter, 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?

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 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 books outside of the United States?

Yes, we ship outside of the United States all the time. We only ship books 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?

Unless specifically noted in one of our descriptions, we accept 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.

6. Do you ever issue catalogs?

Yes, we issue at least two and sometimes as many as four e-catalogs each year. When we do, we send them only 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 info@read-em-again.com

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 info@read-em-again.com 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 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 for me on consignment?

We're sorry, but probably not; not unless the book is exceptionally scarce, exceptionally desireable, and 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?

Yes, we will, and we are well-qualified to do so.  

Kurt Sanftleben is a member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America and 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.  For example, in many--actually most--instances, the total cost to appraise a collection of one-to-five books (or book sets) would be $100, six-to-ten books would be $150, and each additional book would add $5 to the total.  For complex or complicated appraisals, we charge $100/hour.

If you decide that you would like us to appraise your book or collection, you should be aware that we—like all booksellers 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 info@read-em-again.com.

11. Have you read all of the books that you sell?

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.

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 13th 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?

The protective, clear, plastic 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.  

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 signed book, it came with a Certificate of Authenticity from the seller. Does this make it more valuable?

No. 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 who offer such incentives as part of their marketing scheme. If you are buying a signed book, incunable leaf, print, or anything else, we recommend only buying from an ABAA dealer or other dealer that you trust and who offers a 100% money back guarantee if you should later find that the signature or item is not authentic. We sell very few signed books or autographed letters, but for those that we do, we will always accept a return at any time for a full refund including shipping if a recognized expert determines that the signature is not authentic provided the book is returned to us by the original purchaser in the same condition as when it was sold.

18. It sounds like you are down on eBay. I thought eBay was a good place to buy and sell collectible books; 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.

However, there are still many reputable booksellers on eBay, and you can often find some nice bargains if you have the time to sift through all of the junk. We are eBay Top-Rated Sellers; we have an eBay store; and we frequently auction off well-described older stock on eBay that we've had hanging around a while; those can often be excellent bargains.