Library Editions - Why So Lowly?
Hello Kind Folks

Maybe this will start a discussion, or like so many other threads I start - just lie in cyberspace limbo.

But I was wondering just last night when looking over my inventory, Why are Ex-Library Books treated with such disdain by collectors and Used Book Dealers?

I mean - Jeez if it were not for them, us poor folk would never see some of the titles by great authors like Andre. Or be able to claim that we own an old first edition of some masterpiece. I realize that the value is nowhere near that of a true First, but if the book is in good condition, Why can't it be considered collectible. It seems to me that a couple Ex-Library Editions I have, that are complete with check-out cards and all other Library paraphernalia should be considered History in your hands. Just think about how many youngsters got started reading because of it.

I just do not understand why an Edition that may not even be a first, without the Dustjacket could be worth more than a Library Edition that is in really good condition.

Although I have to say, I guess it's a good thing or I would not be able to own it. For most Andre First Editions are priced so high (these days anyways) that I don't even qualify to look at them. I've seen a few (from afar) that basically require a credit check just to touch it with gloves on. Anyway - I say "Long Live Ex-Library Editions".

I guess after I collect all the different American and UK paperbacks I could start a collection of all Ex-Library Edition (God knows - I'm on the way there)

"Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted"
Andre Norton's website -
Jay, you just answered your own question. If they did not sell at a discount, then they would be as hard to buy financially as a nonlibrary edition. I do not present myself as an expert, but have collected books for many years. An occasional 'library edition' with minimal markings (no pocket, no large ink markings on the title page, and no big label on the jacket [usually not removable]) may actuallty sell for close to the price of a nonlibrary edition. Those from private collections/libraries with just a stamp on the front pastedown or on a back page can sell for close to the price of a nonlibrary marked edition.

The price of anything depends on demand (not even supply as there are books that may be unique by unknown authors which sell for a pittance). And collectors are usually very picky. I would still bet that a library-marked rare Andre Norton first edition has value more than a common ex-library book on an unpolular subject - it is just less than an unmarked copy. The same goes for a damaged copy being less valuable.

I personally would prefer to have a nice clean minimally marked ex-library copy of a rare book, than one non-marked, but that looked like it had been the playtoy of 10 or so playful puppies.

Now if you are asking why an ex-library copy with nice condition and all of the appropriate marking and pockets intact should not be collectible in its' own right - then I haven't an answer. I do try to get copies in the reinforced library bindings when I can, as I consider those legitimate variants, but I prefer them not marked as ex-library. Maybe I should. Collectors are a 'funny' lot, me included. And I don't mean 'humerous' either - just odd.
I suppose that the problem with Ex-Library books is condition.

I agree with CatsRule, that I'd like to collect the Library bindings. Many of these have the jacket pictures, and are otherwise nice. I collect variant editions, so Library bindings might be nice. I just wouldn't want to break the bank.

Now, the reason that people often dislike an Ex-library book, even if it never circulated is because of how much would have to go down as condition flaws.

Example: PRINCE COMMANDS X-lib copy first edition.
condition: Missing Dust Jacket, several Library stamps, Library pocket pasted in, faded spine. Large stamp with WITHDRAWN on title page.
cost $68 about 15 years ago.

I once found an X-lib of STAND TO HORSE, for 25 cents in a library book sale. The only thing still there was the book-block (i.e. all of the pages). No jacket, boards, taped on, tape in endpapers, card pocket.

Today's modern libraries don't use pockets any more, at least not in the new books. There is an electronic strip slid into the book spine. Sometimes there is a bar-code pasted to the front end paper. Perhaps the flaws that have made a library book less disirable will begin to disappear.

Note: A remaindered book, is also considered less desirable. And that is just for the Red marker swipe that is usually across all of the pages on the bottom edge. I usually accept this ONE flaw if the book is otherwise clean.

Note: Personal Library stamps (those squeezy tools that dent pages), Labels such as my address sticker, Cliped price corners, and even a book that I have that has ONLY one small library sticker. Each of these is a single flaw in an otherwise fine condition book.

A book is considered by the number of flaws. These being the differences between now and what it was when it left the binders.

So the copy of ROGUE REYNARD that I had, with only that one small library sticker, was considered in the same league as any other first edition. "Fine" with just the one flaw (and a closed tear to the DJ). When about 2 weeks later, I came across a slightly better condition book (also strangely with the same small library sticker), I bought the better book, and sold off the first copy. My guess is that some private school divested of it's library, and two books were on the market, both in CT.

Then again, some other collector might tell me that the library sticker was standard to the Library binding. No way to tell.
"I've seen a few (from afar) that basically require a credit check just to touch it with gloves on. " Lots-A-Watts

There was one convention - ReaderCon I think - that had a book seller's version of Antiques Road Show.

I know I drove to the convention, else I wouldn't have brought my Cheap Street Editions for "Show & Tell". I have the entire run of Andre Nortons WERE WRATH. From Lettered - leatherbound & boxed, numbered, boxed... Bound proofs.... Prospectus. [And the Anne McCaffrey GIRL WHO HEARD DRAGONS].

You can bet that I didn't let anyone near the table with food in their hands, and did a hand-check before I let anyone touch the books.
I live in a fairly large major city where most of the branch lbraries have good Norton collections usually shelved in the Young Adult Section. I have noticed again and again how worn, re-bound and mended are the library copies. As we all know Andre is very popular with young adult readers. Over time many of these shabby copies are discarded and appear as x-lib. However, I think many Norton readers may find them of value. If you have problems reading a small mass market Norton paperback with a tight binding and small print an inexpensive x-lib may well met your needs with its larger print and easily opened pages. Also, you can easily lend or give them to a friend who you believe might like Norton.
We Collectors (note the capital "C") want the best copy of an item that can be found, and book dealers must cater to those demands. (There's not a lot of money in supplying reading copies...) We also want a hardcover when we can get it. I don't mind a remainder mark myself (as it's usually on the bottom of the book), but I hate bookplates (unless they're signed).

The last time I sold books to The Strand (NYC's biggest used shop), I was told they don't buy book club editions any more. We know, of course, that these are the only hardcovers of some Norton titles!

Collecting is a fun, but never-ending hobby...
I have only been to The Strand one time. It is huge. But then they told me that the books I was looking for, wouldn't be in the main shop, but next door (and up a level) in their Antiquarian shop.

I haven't been in 20 or so years.

As for X-lib copies. I have several. Not just Andre Norton books, but several other authors. These are mostly my reading copies, and provide a secondary peek into the crazy world of Book publishing.

All of my older Jane Curry books are X-lib hard covers. That pocket provides a nice place to put my book mark, where I know that it won't get blown away.
Irene Wrote:I have only been to The Strand one time. It is huge. But then they told me that the books I was looking for, wouldn't be in the main shop, but next door (and up a level) in their Antiquarian shop. I haven't been in 20 or so years.

You wouldn't recognize it! There's an elevator now, so you can get to the Rare Book Room without going out to the sidewalk. There's air-conditioning, and the walls have been painted.
I remember an elevator. But you had to go out of the shop and into the foyer of what appeared to be an appartment building (brownstone?).

Painted? I don't remember any walls. Just book cases. Twisted rooms of book cases. Probabaly an old appartment, just filled with desks & book cases.

My guess is that the Antiquarian books were moved to the second floor of the shop. I 'sort' of remember a balcony thingey. Maybe not. On a good day, I can usually remember my name.

Oh - not all book dealers distain X-lib books. Klon Newel has sold many, many X-lib books over the years. I remember that he got most of them signed by the authors, like Andre Norton. So, as autographed copies they were very nice.

These signed-X-lib books are every bit as neato-keeno as my WorldFantasy acquisition of a Lois McMaster Bujold, 2nd printing - where Lois was there to sign the book. [I've now got vol 1 & 3 of the series, and plan to bring them to WorldCon & get those signed.]

MYCode Guide

Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Book editions question Taliesin 6 640 November 30th, 2015, 09:13 AM
Last Post: Irene
  Russian editions of Andre's work Lots-A-Watts 12 1,800 June 15th, 2012, 05:16 PM
Last Post: Lots-A-Watts
  Omnibus Editions and Other Stuff Lots-A-Watts 17 2,053 November 14th, 2011, 09:01 AM
Last Post: Marron4Gateau
  Cleveland Public Library Glendennis 8 1,483 July 22nd, 2010, 09:46 PM
Last Post: Steven Vogel
  Sources for foreign language editions Taliesin 4 1,195 February 19th, 2009, 01:32 PM
Last Post: Taliesin
  Free Russian Language Editions Joseph_Goldin 3 1,239 June 26th, 2007, 12:11 AM
Last Post: jmelsna
  Off Topic: Save the Library at Alexandra Irene 1 988 September 5th, 2005, 02:23 AM
Last Post: Paul Goode
  First Editions dkg 2 837 September 22nd, 2004, 12:50 PM
Last Post: Irene
  Andre Norton Editions??? aogleleonard 8 1,598 November 16th, 2003, 12:55 AM
Last Post: Irene

Forum Jump: