There were so many Morrison County Record topics to choose from this week that I had trouble deciding where to begin. I’ve decided to jump into the pond at an unusual angle. After reading about the referendum’s I got to thinking about the Swanville, Upsala schools. I remember when I was working for the Record the last story I covered for them was on Upsala’ s school going into statutory operating debt.

Here’s the odd angle. I am by trade a book dealer, its how I make a living. I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t much of a living but my daughter has health problems and it allows me to stay close to home. All justifications aside, I essentially earn money by knowing my market. I have to be able to pluck books for next to nothing and turn it around for a considerable profit. Since moving to Morrisona County I’ve established my best fishing spots and surprisingly enough they’re local libraries. Yep, you read these fishy lips right, libraries.

The first Friends of Library sale I went to I scored so many valuable books that I went back the next day and offered them my business card and recommended that they have their books roughly appraised before their next sale. One book in particular was a first edition, first printing of E.L. Doctorow. What was especially unique about this book was that it was the his second book but he didn’t like it so he wouldn’t allow it to be reprinted. The first print run was the only print run.  Its been so many years now that I can’t remember the title and the copies are so scarce that its difficult to find any reference. All the same, no one ever contacted me and the sales that followed continued to offer similarly valuable books. I no longer felt guilty about profiting because I offered to show them how to profit more than once with no takers. Oh, and E.L. Doctorow scored 250.00 at auction which was a steal.

Everyone assumes that library books have no market value and they’re flat out wrong in most cases. Friends of the Library across the country are friends of book dealers all over America. That having been said, no where is that more true than with children’s library books.

This brings me back to the Swanville, Upsala school libraries, they have really old books in there libraries. As a news correspondent I would sit in these libraries listening to budget woes and fund-raising figures, distracted by their extraordinary collection of books.  Ernest Hemingway in hardcover with a jacket? Lord of the Flies in hardcover with a jacket? First editions, I checked…but not always first printing. Obviously a first printing would fetch a higher price but any First edition will due, the lower the print number the higher the market value.

I think a very conservative estimate would be 50 dollars on up each. I did mention it once or twice in passing but everyone ignored me expect for an English teacher. If your schools need money, quit checking the collectible books out to the kids, they want fresh up to date covers and illustrations. Sell the old valuable copies and use the money to refurbish the library. Earnest Heming way in paperback goes for about a penny plus shipping, so you could replace the books you sell for about 4 bucks and invest the remainder into more recent publications.

Here’s the secret about children’s books, they weren’t collected, not like adult books. Which means, often times the only copies available that still have a jacket come from library sales. The market for them isn’t just in America, I’ve shipped at least 15 discarded children’s library books to the U.K. and they’ve fetched a market values that ranged from 37.00 to 200.00.

Librarians are not book dealers and book dealers who overlook the library market may want to take a second look at children’s books.

Here is a short list recent list that was still accessible:

$44.00 The Tooth Fairy by Anita MacRae Feagles 1st edition/first printing ex library book

$40.00 Flower for Algernon by Daniel Keyes 1st edition, 1st edition, 13th printing ex library book

$44.99 Six O’clock Saints by Joan Windham, 1st edition ex library book

$37.00 King Tut’s Game Boardby Leona Ellerby 1st edition ex library book

$37.00 Benjamin and Tulip by Rosemary Wells 1st edition ex library book

$200.00 The Jolly Jump-Ups Journey Through Space, 1st edition ex library book.

All that having been said, I’ll use this post to introduce the new bookstore blog I’m hosting in conjunction with my online bookstore A Bookstore Blog by Madeline West Online. Up coming posts offer insight into the used book trade and how to do a simple appraisal yourself.

Oh, and if any of the school’s or libraries have changed their minds about appraisals and want to know how to maximize your resale drop me a line at or you will continue to miss the boat. A part from children’s books market, I purchased a pile off the library cart last month. I paid 50 cents for a book called Clues in the Calico, a hard to find book on dating quilts, I sold it in 24 hours for $150.00 and that was a bargain compared to other dealers asking prices, I went for the quick sale. I also purchased a series of books called Uncoverings for the same price, also on the history of quilting. Each book sold for $30.00, there were buyers waiting, 3 sold within 24 hours. Since they were all paperback copies I paid $2.00 for the four that sold right away and got 200.00 in return by the next day.

Seriously…you’re missing the boat.