Some of the best-loved children’s books, from a 1941 edition of Peter Rabbit to a first edition Madeline from the same era, line the shelves of antiquarian bookseller Myra Moran’s home in Rogers. Though she sells a wide variety of genres through her online business, Trolley Line Books, she notes that children’s stories are a perennial favorite for the memories they hold. Finding these cherished books in good condition, however, can be a more difficult matter. “The books people enjoy the most,” says Moran, “are generally the most worn.”
While condition is a critical factor in setting a book’s resale worth, she notes that supply and demand ultimately determine value. “In the end, price is based on how many copies are available and how many people want the book,” Moran says. “As with any collectible, the more rare, the more in demand, the higher the value.”
Moran and other antiquarian booksellers will soon be showing their wares, including children’s books, at the Arkansas Book & Paper Show, held in early August at the Jacksonville Community Center. She offers starting collectors a few tips for evaluating their current books and potential purchases:
In the book collecting business, this means the first appearance in print—which can differ from the publishing industry, where the term can be used to indicate that the book was reprinted without changes from its initial release. A variety of identification guides and online sources are available to help distinguish between the two.
“An original dust jacket can significantly increase the value of a book, as much as doubling the price,” says Moran. Since the jackets usually incorporate illustration or art, they create a visual connection to the story. She adds that they’re also a way to help determine if the book was part of a club, like book of the month—which generally decreases value.
With children’s books, especially picture ones, the illustrator can be more important than the author. She notes that Maurice Sendak is a good example of this, with his first editions carrying some of the highest prices in the children’s books market.
Talking with booksellers, visiting stores carrying used and rare books as well as checking online sources is a good way to understand the market better and assess value. The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (www.abaa.org) includes articles on their website dedicated to collecting children’s books, as well as a list of some of the most collectible ones from the last century.
Moran notes that books can be a good investment, since in general they appreciate in value between 5 to 10% per year. But the main reason to start a collection, she says, is to refresh those childhood memories. “Everyone can have a shelf or two of personal favorites,” she adds.
Arkansas Book & Paper Show
Sponsored by the Arkansas Antiquarian Booksellers Association
Saturday, August 8th, from 9-5 and Sunday, August 9th, from 10-4
Jacksonville Community Center (Hwy 67/167 & Main Street)