Wondering whether to keep or sell an old book?
Lloyd Zimmer, from Books and Maps in Chanute, will be on hand for “Rare Books Roadshow” from 1 to 4 p.m. July 21 at the McPherson Public Library, 214 W. Marlin St., for a come and go event at which he will meet with people to discuss their rare, out of print or unusual books.
“Go through your bookshelves, attics, and closets and find that book or map you have always wondered about,” Zimmer said. “Bring it, or just bring yourselves, and we’ll visit about valuating books, maps, ephemera and other manuscript and printed material.”
Zimmer has a lifetime of experience in antiques and collectibles, and will visit with people about not only books, but also maps, newspapers, photographs and historic letters. He also will have unique items from his personal collection on hand for viewing and discussion.
While fewer people may be reading physical books, there is still a strong interest in collecting them, even from young people, Zimmer said.
Part of a book’s appeal is its physicality, from the dust jacket to the pages themselves.
“The illustrations in a book are experienced very differently on the page than they can be experienced on a screen,” Zimmer said.
Collectors often acquire books that reflect their personal interests, work or family history.
“People collect books for a lot of different reasons, but usually it’s because their library is an extension of their identity,” Zimmer said.
A collector may be focused on finding works by a particular writer or publishing house.
“Systematically building a collection, we learn about the authors, we learn about the publishers...in more and greater detail than if we were just looking up the information,” Zimmer said.
If you want a book to last for decades or centuries, there are a few common-sense tips to follow — like making sure to keep it in an area that is 40 to 75 degrees in temperature. Extreme temperatures can affect the glue binding the pages to the cover of a book.
“Books, in general, they survive best in the environment that humans are comfortable in,” Zimmer said.
Books should also be stored in places with 30 to 70 percent humidity.
“Moisture is going to damage books, but dryness can cause them to become too brittle,” Zimmer said.
It is also important to keep books out of direct sunlight to avoid fading its cover and pages — which impacts its value.
“Condition is going to be extremely important,” Zimmer said.
Books with hand-colored plates are desirable to collectors. Autographed books or those with bookplates from a well-known person’s library can be worth more, depending on their scarcity and uniqueness.
“It’s kind of tough, sometimes. Buying collectible books is probably more intuition than it is actual knowledge,” Zimmer said.
Some books can have little to no value for collecting — especially those from print on demand services or digital publishers.
Since they widely published, books by popular authors generally aren’t worth much.
“First printing and first editions are going to be the only things that are really collectible, and not all of those are,” Zimmer said.
Just because a book is old doesn’t mean it’s collectible or valuable.
“We always hope that we have a treasure in our attic or on our bookshelf but more often than not I’m the bearer of bad news,” Zimmer said.
People coming to “Rare Book Roadshow” are encouraged to bring up to three books for Zimmer to evaluate. If necessary, he will even do some research and follow up with participants afterwards.
“I love to be stumped,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years...but every once in a while someone brings something that I’ve never seen.”
For additional information about “Rare Books Roadshow,” call the library at 620-245-2570 or email them at email@example.com.