It’s often about reclaiming shelf space

It might sound amusing, but you’d smile at the overwhelming number of clients we’ve talked to who have decided to auction their antique book collections because, quote: “My wife wants her living room back.”

Book collections obviously vary in size, but they can take up quite a lot of space – space that is valuable to spouses who’ve got their sights set on reclaiming the room where the library is housed, or who’d rather reinvest the value of the antique books into something the couple can mutually enjoy.

When to decide to sell a book collection

For collectors who are no longer regularly interacting with their libraries, selling the collection may be an option to consider.

Interests change and we all develop new focus over the years, so this may be a great time to reinvest in different sorts of antique books, or into a different hobby altogether.

It can be painful to part with carefully compiled and meaningful personal collections. Therefore, it’s wise to ask yourself (at least) three questions before considering letting the library go:

  • Are you still actively enjoying your collection?
  • Do you have space to continue housing the book collection?
  • Are you in urgent need of cash?

Where to sell a rare book library

Recouping your original investment

If you’ve determined that it is in your best interest to sell, your first concern may revolve around how to recoup your original investment in antique books.

Many serious and even casual rare book collectors have invested heavily in their books, whether the collections are large or small, and have spent many years amassing the library.

Naturally, it is a priority for such collectors to attempt to recoup their original investment and if possible, make a profit. Depending on your present circumstances, this is definitely a primary factor to keep in mind as you weigh your options.

Best way to sell a rare book collection

4 options for selling a rare book library

There are generally four options to choose from when deciding how to sell rare books:

We’ll touch briefly on each of these in this article:

  1. Sell the books privately to other collectors
  2. Sell books individually to rare book dealers
  3. Consign select volumes to a major auction house
  4. Consign to a boutique consignment service

1. Selling directly to another collector

This is often the most desirable option, but isn’t always the simplest.

If you’ve networked with other like-minded antiquarian collectors and have contacts who may be interested in purchasing some or all of your collection, you’re fortunate! Talk with them first to see if you can strike a deal.

2. Selling directly to a rare book dealer

Certain volumes of your library may be suitable for selling directly to a rare book dealer who may have the opportunity to resell it to a specific private buyer.

Keep in mind that rare book dealers – we included – run businesses which must operate sustainably, and thus can only offer you a percentage of the current market value of your book.

Sometimes, this is a preferable option if you’re looking for a quick turnaround or are in need of the cash, but it probably won’t be making you a profit on your original investment.

3. Consignment with a major auction house

Selling extraordinarily rare or desirable antique books at auction has been a tried and true method used by bibliophiles for centuries.

For individual volumes or large libraries from distinguished estates, the prestige and exposure afforded by world-class auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s presents an attractive solution for high-end antiquities and works of art.

Review the consignment agreement for many add-on fees

With the reputation of a major auction house also comes the expense of high consignment fees, buyer’s premiums and a lengthy wait (often 90 days or more) before actually receiving payment after a successful sale.

Though some fees are negotiable and you’ll be informed when you carefully read the consignment agreement beforehand, it’s wise to note that you could potentially run into additional charges such as those for photography, cataloging, restoration, buy-back fees for unsold lots, storage fees, shipping, packing, storage, custom duties and import tax, if appropriate.

The high fees and time frame involved can sometimes make this option prohibitive, depending on your circumstances.

If you have the caliber of books (or quantity of such books) typically seen at prominent auctions and you expect your collection to be valued in the tens of thousands or more, a major auction house may be highly appropriate.

4. Selling at auction with a boutique consignment service

Never heard of a “boutique consignment service”? That’s because there aren’t many of them!

In today’s terminology, a boutique service refers to a service offering which is unique and of great quality. Translation: good old fashioned premium service and care for customers.

This is exactly what we do here at Regency Antique Books.

Our auction consignment model is different than the big guys because we serve the needs of everyday antique book collectors, not just the extraordinary collections that make industry headlines.

Put quite simply, we love helping people sell their books.

From our one-on-one interaction with you, the seller, to the opportunity to sell your books in a very reasonable timeframe at fair market value, the benefits of consigning an antique or rare book collection with us are many. Our experience in the antique book field coupled with the skills of our professional designers raise the bar in terms of the presentation of your book. This level of representation is the standard for each of our online auctions.

Our competitive consignment fee is a flat rate which includes:

  • Transparent fees with no hidden charges
  • Access to exclusive rare book auction archives
  • Use of pro-level listing software for customized listing design
  • Professional photography and editing
  • Social media posts for consigned items
  • Exceptional customer service, both for the buyer AND for you!

Ready to think about auctioning your collection?

Feel free to submit your individual volumes or entire collection to us and we’d be happy to review your items to discuss the possibilities.