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When Buying Used, Rare Tolkien Books Online


From Tolkien Library – For new collectors of old and rare books, and specifically, used books written by Tolkien on the internet, Tolkien Library has compiled an important checklist of things you need to watch out for when looking for such treasures written by the fantasy author. Those who have been at this for years may already understand what to look out for but for newer collectors this article has pertinent information to help guide you away from making costly mistakes. Go here to this link to read the article in its entirety.
Important takeaway: “The majority of booksellers on the net are honest and care about their reputation for providing customer satisfaction. However, it is often worrying to buy a book that you’ve never seen from a seller you’ve never met. And occasionally these purchases can be a disappointment. Perhaps the seller doesn’t know enough, or doesn’t care enough about the customer, or perhaps the buyer misunderstood something in the description or the terms of sale.”

Some preliminary things to look for:

1. Under-priced books. Seems cheap? Might be too good to be true.
2. Only a general description instead of specific problems with the book. Often when there are point -by-point descriptions of the book’s flaws that could mean it is in better condition than a simple description of the book being “good for its age.”
3. Terms like “old book smell” can mean it is affected by mildew which can infect the rest of the books in your library. “Good for its age” should be a red flag warning that you might be buying from a seller who is clueless. Go to the article for more on that.
4. Ask questions when it is claimed that a book is a first edition. The seller should be able to talk to you about this point in clear detail. If not, beware. If they are unwilling to talk about certain issues, are discourteous about requests about the book’s condition and value, do not buy from them. Are they overly aggressive or rude when it comes to their policies? Perhaps you should not buy from them.

Booksellers use trade specific terms. Learn them and understand that they are not being obscure or rude when using them and don’t be put off by these terms. If you want to be a collector, learn what they are so that you know what they are talking about – and what *you* want. Look at photos of the book in question, especially when buying rare, or expensive first edition copies of Tolkien’s work. During an auction it is probably not wise to bid on items without a photograph. If it’s expensive ask the seller to scan the book. They should be able to do this for you at request. When ordering hardbacks ask the seller to package these in boxes instead of bubble-wrapped envelopes hardbacks can suffer more damage while in transit. They should be able to do this for you without trouble.

These are only a very few things you should consider when making a purchase of a rare or expensive edition of one of Tolkien’s books or otherwise. To educate yourself on all the things to look for when making such purchases, especially online. Please go to Tolkien Library and read the entire article. It is informative, thorough and packed with excellent information to help make your collecting of such books a joy and a satisfaction.

victorialadybug (V. A. Jeffrey) is a fantasy and science fiction author. She also loves music, art, history, cooking, baking, fermenting stuff, comic book movies and nearly anything Tolkien related. Her biggest writing inspirations are Shakespeare, Frank Herbert and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien.

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  1. The link isn’t working. 🙁

  2. Whoops! Sorry about that! I went back and fixed it. I hope it works for you now Knowfere!