From the Editor

by Craig Stark

#25, 16 August 2004

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and this is most certainly true in bookselling. It's not hard to part with a few bucks when you're buying inventory because you know that there's a good chance you'll make it back and then some. However, it's not as easy to spend money (or even time) on the acquisition of knowledge because the payback isn't as easy to measure. Or as quick in coming. Some of us put it off indefinitely.

Last weekend I bought an immaculate, complete set of Time-Life books (a particular title I designated as 'hot' in a previous Gold Edition newsletter) for $25. It should sell readily for $200 to $300+ on eBay. I had no idea when I would run into this set, but since I'd deliberately acquired the knowledge of its value some years ago and knew from experience that T-L sets popped up frequently at sales, it was only a matter of time before I did. And only a matter of time before I do again. I don't know how many booksellers passed this set by before I came to it, but the ones who did didn't make the same investment in knowledge I did and are therefore poorer for it. Speaking of investments, if you aren't a Gold Edition subscriber, you missed BookThink's analysis of the Time-Life series and, unless you acquired this knowledge independently of BookThink, may have passed this very set by yourself once or twice. The point is that the more knowledge you invest in, the more likely it is that you'll use and profit from it.

Of course, bookselling knowledge is available in lots of places. Some of the most valuable is contained in reference books, and boy oh boy, some of these require an investment too. Sometimes a considerable one. In today's BookThinker, I'm going to discuss what I consider to be the essential (and most affordable) reference books for general first edition identification. Later articles in this series will address other bookselling references.

I mentioned in a previous newsletter that we'll be launching a super book links page on BookThink's one-year anniversary - September 1. If you have a request for one or more links to be included, there's still time to add them to our page. You can send it to me personally at or visit the forum and post it on this topic:

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Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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