The Value of Books

While reading an old copy of one of my favourite magazines, Good Reading, there was a mention of the often forgotten monetary value , or cost, of a personal library. Of course, this would be a casual collector (or hoarder!) and not a professional collector. If the average cost of one book in your collection is $15 and you have over 400 odd books then, well, you’re sitting on a small fortune. Some titles will depreciate such as those tacky copies of V. C. Andrews (*cough*) but I think many will hold their value.

Library, Vinters by Charlotte Bonsanquet (1843)

The article also mentioned taking out insurance to ensure your books are covered. I had never thought of insuring my books or even their value but I have thought about how absolutely horrified and devastated I would be when I imagine my books go up in flames or under water. I don’t think the insurance payout would make me feel better but I guess it would be start. Do you insure your books or are they already covered with your other home or content insurance?

And, of course, the emotional ties and sentimental value of books can never be measured!


  1. mine just covered on normal policy did check when took it out and said was ok ,sentimental is most valuable those book that envoke a fond memory or a place and time ,all the best stu

    1. Plus, it would be so very tedious and tiring to restock all your books again. Having a library filled with brand new books might be nice but I like the mark I’ve left on them.

  2. You might want to talk to a used book dealer. Unless you’re collecting rare books, they all depreciate, and most of them lose their entire value.

    I’m not “sitting on a small fortune,” I’m afraid. I spent a small fortune!

    1. Yes, I thought so but I was going by what was in the article. I doubt my mass market paperbacks would be worth a lot but I guess if I had to replace all the copies with either new or even second-hand copies, it would cost around the same amount or more to replace. Despite the low value when selling to second dealers, it still costs around $8-10 to buy (from my experience).

      I know – when I put my books into perspective like that, I’m staring at what could have been a round the world trip instead!

  3. I have a feeling that if we could know the total amount of money we have invested on books the number would flabbergast us! I think that most of mine have lost their value, though, especially as I rarely buy hardcovers and am not the most careful of readers when it comes to handling my paperbacks.

    1. I’m sure my collection has very little monetary value too. The only hardcovers I have are some second hands one and…err…Harry Potter.

  4. I don´t think mine are worth much either, I don´t treat them like a collector. And most are second-hand paperbacks.

    I guess I´d rather not know the exact amount of money I´ve spent on books, it´s a scary thought 😀

    And probably sentimental value is the most valuable.

    1. My collection isn’t special but I think I may have some hard to find volumes that *might* have a little value.

      I can barely stand to count my books let alone cost them! Eeek! But they’re worthy ‘investments’ and they can last a lifetime and more1

  5. I think my dad’s collection could be worth a lot, I am not sure. Some of those books he has are now out of print (and plenty of hardcover books).

    I must check with him about it. Thanks for posting about this 🙂

    1. I remember that shot you had of some of your bookshelves. There’s a lot of books! What sort of books does your dad read and collect?

  6. While reading your fascinating post I was put in mind of all the books I’ve given away. Am I stupid? I run out of room for my collections, often pass them along, and have even been known to buy them again! This is the moment when I consider a Kindle, so that I’m not overwhelmed with storage.

    Anyway, all sorts of thoughts are loooming through my brain right now…I have no insurance whatsoever, and whath do we do with the loss of the treasured volume of memories (i.e. my tattered copy of Charlotte’s Web from 1969)? I guess we hope for the best, while knowing that most of our books are well loved. Or, have landed in the hands of those who love them more than I.

    1. I don’t think it’s silly to give away books. After all, I think us book lovers weigh the emotional value of the books much more than the monetary value. In fact, I’d never thought of my books having any sort of value to many others but when the article put it in that perspective, it is quite interesting to see how much our collection is worth or how much we have spent!

      I’ve given away or sold books before and then have ended up having to buy them again. That drove me crazy! I’m considering an iPad for ebooks. I wasn’t sold on it but I saw a demo and it looks pretty good. I’m not that keen on the iPad itself though. Reminds me waaay too much of female sanitary products. Eugh!

      1. Late to this one as I was busy and away in early June. Our books are included in our general insurance And, I catalogue them in LibraryThing, though they are not all there yet (and I don’t catalogue the TBRs), which gives me an inventory of what I own. I could decide from that which ones I’d want to replace. I do have a friend who lost all her books in a fire. It was pretty traumatic for her but she’s alive and that’s the main thing. As for iPads, I’m not sure they are the best technology for reading. I’m still thinking on this one.

        1. I tried cataloguing them in LibraryThing but I got a few done before it got tedious. I now just use a spreadsheet and do my own thing. How did your friend go with replacing her library? That must have been so devastating but, like you said, the most important thing in the end is that she and everybody else is alive.

          1. Ah, why did you find LibraryThing more tedious than a spreadsheet? I love the fact that I can enter an ISBN and nearly always get a record straight up. The situation improved when I bought a CueCat barcode reader though – that helped me get in the bulk of my backlogged fiction and some nonfiction. I haven’t put everything yet.

            I export from LibraryThing to a spreadsheet on a regular basis.

            As for my friend, I think she has just built it up again over time (She’s an online bookgroup friend) and says she is a little less “precious” about her books though she does still love her books!

            1. The scanner would have made things much easier. I think I got too distracted and obsessed with having the right covers for my books! And the fact that you can only do 200 items before having to pay a fee to join up, I’d rather stick to my spreadsheet for the moment.

              I try not to be too precious about my books, but in the end, we’re still talking about MY books!

              1. LOL Mae. I decided not to worry about the covers because my main aim is to get an inventory – ie a spreadsheet like you cldearly have. When I export the data back to my system it comes without the covers so it doesn’t matter. I can edit bits and pieces if needed. As for cost, it’s only $25 forever ie not an annual fee or anything.

                BTW I know what you mean about being precious about my books. I try hard not to also, but it is hard isn’t it!

  7. The hard part is not getting the books insured but rather appraised. The cost of appraisal is high , generally running a few hundrend dollars an hour.

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