EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 349 - December 15, 2013 - ISSN 1528-6703     5 of 6

Collectors Corner Gold: Science Fiction Books

By Michele Alice

Email This Story to a Friend

We're reaching back into the archives to find collectors corner "gold" - evergreen columns that deserve another look. In today's issue we present tips from Michele Alice on what to look for when evaluating scifi books at yard sales, library book sales and of course, online.

Mention Science Fiction and many people think of Star Wars or Star Trek, but SciFi actually has a history stretching back over one hundred years to Jules Verne (1828-1950) and H.G. Wells (1866-1946). It does not matter, however, whether you're buying or selling first editions of Verne's or Well's books, Buck Rogers ray guns, or Spock ears, the laws of the market are the same: scarcity and condition are the two most important factors in the price of any object.

When dealing with scifi books, keep the following in mind:

1) First editions of popular titles by any one author are generally worth more than those that are obscure. Thus, all other things being equal, a first edition of Well's The Time Machine can command a higher price than his Men Like Gods.

2) Alterations result in scarcity. An example is Killing Time (a Star Trek paperback) by Della Van Hise. A number of paragraphs in the 1985 first printing were excised from subsequent printings. The first edition, with raised lettering on the cover, is now worth at least twice as much as first editions of other Star Trek titles.

3) A dust jacket in good condition adds value, especially if the artwork is particularly striking or by a well-known scifi artist.

4) Autographed copies are always worth more than unsigned books. (The owner's signature in a book will usually detract from the price, unless the owner is someone famous, like Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley.)

5) Condition, condition, condition. Everyone wants as close to mint condition as possible - just like every other collectible. Coffee stains, ink marks, tears, and creases all decrease a books value.

If you're curious as to the values of out-of-print books, you can check the completed auctions on eBay, or sites like, which lists thousands of used books by various dealers. (Amazon acquired BibioFind and has since closed the service.)

And if you liked this column, you'll probably also enjoy another blast from the past, Collectors Corner SciFi.

About the author:

Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ eBay ID: Malice9

You may quote up to 50 words of any article on the condition that you attribute the article to and either link to the original article or to
All other use is prohibited.