One-stop Book Repair Shop
April 16, 2008 10:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to cover all my bases for my budding book repair business. I'm sure in the process people will be asking me to appraise their books.

For my own collection, I've found it adequate to use the usual online suspects, such as Abebooks, alibris, vialibri, amazon, ebay, etc. What more can I do to educate myself on this process? Are there formal classes I should be looking into? Also, when providing this service, what is the standard fee, or is there one? Should I just charge my hourly rate, but for research instead of conservation work?
posted by ikahime to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have a direct answer to your question, but as a former bookbinder, I wanted to share with you a bit of my experience with book appraisal, since you are trying to cover all of your bases. At the shop I worked at, the owner refused to do appraisal for people because there was some sort of liability involved. You see, people would bring very valuable items to the bindery, and when the value of an item exceeded a certain amount, he would have to buy extra insurance for the item, just in case it somehow became ruined in the shop. Anyway, he required the owners of the books to get them appraised elsewhere and tell him the value, just in case something did happen. This way, the customers could never claim that he did not appraise the book value high enough if something did happen. It was the responsibility of the customer to have the book's value, and that way, if something happened, it would be the customer's issue if it was not insured at the proper value. I don't know much about this process, as i just sewed, but i know it was a huge deal for the owner, and he had very clear policies about this.

Have you asked any other bookbinders how they deal with this?
posted by waywardgirl at 11:21 PM on April 16, 2008

I've worked with musical instruments a bit, and remember that it's always important to put "In my opinion, this instrument is worth ______________". IANAL but I believe it's hard to sue someone regarding their opinion.
posted by sully75 at 6:16 AM on April 17, 2008

Best answer: What more can I do to educate myself on this process?

One thing that's tricky is knowing when a book is a "true first" edition or "first state." Different publishers dealt with this in different ways over time - Knopf, I think, early on identified its true first editions by *not* putting any mark noting the book was a first. They just added markings for 2nd, 3rd, etc. Other publishers put "first printing" on all their true firsts. Also, a "first state" might include an error that was corrected midway through the first print run, and would be much more valuable to collectors.

Firsts Magazine is a good resource; each issue has a feature article that goes into detail about first editions for a particular author or subject. Our store (which sells rare books, does appraisals, and does repairs but not complete rebindings) subscribes. There are also some good books that detail how different publishers dealt with first editions during their history; this article recommends Bill McBride's "Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions" and "First Editions: A Guide to Identification" by Edward N. Zempel and Linda A. Verkler.

You'll want to have resources like that handy.
posted by mediareport at 7:27 AM on April 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers - the advice of offering an opinion vs. an official appraisal is good. For a while, though, I don't believe I'll be handling objects of super high value (I'm just getting started). I'm also fairly new to this area that I live in, so my professional network is just getting established. and I'll definitely check out Firsts. Thanks!
posted by ikahime at 7:30 AM on April 18, 2008

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