Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clues to Collecting #1

I begin this feature by posting old questions and answers that appear in the comments sections of many old posts. Unless you have subscribed to the comments to this blog, you probably miss many of the good questions that I have received over the last couple of years. I have selected the really good questions to highlight here.

Question: How can you tell when the sellers are reproducing the dust jackets? Obviously, I want the best condition dust jacket I can afford but I've noticed on ebay there are some books with damage where the dust jacket should have protected it and the dust jacket looks clean in that same area. That makes me suspicious, but I'm wondering how you make the determination. I hate to think of being ripped off like this.

Answer: You can almost always tell in person whether a dust jacket is a reproduction. Most copies are either in two pieces or are cut off at the back flap. This is because the dust jackets are longer than legal-sized paper. Additionally, reproduction dust jackets are often pixelated, so the clarity of the image is reduced. Last, many copies are on plain paper, which is another way to distinguish the copies.

Online, buyers must depend on the seller's honesty or level of knowledge in order to be sure that copy dust jackets are not purchased. I do find that most of the copy dust jackets are labeled as such in the listings, but sometimes this information does not jump out at the buyer. Always read all descriptions carefully.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons why a book and dust jacket would not have the same wear. I have heard of people removing the dust jacket while reading the book, so the book could get damaged while the dust jacket is safe.

Some people remove the dust jackets from all of their books and store them. By doing this, ultimately the books are sold or destroyed while the dust jackets are safe. In the past, I have bought several lots of near perfect dust jackets from 70+ years ago. I was able to swap out the dust jackets with ones from my books, thus upgrading my dust jackets. In those cases, the books have wear that the jackets do not have.

Libraries have been known to store dust jackets instead of keeping them on the books. I once bought a large lot of beautiful old dust jackets that came from a library.


stratomiker said...

I have seen great copy dust jackets that are one piece and include the whole thing, and I've wondered where you find a color copy machine with paper that long. Or perhaps they are produced in a different manner?

One book store in western New York would put plain black and white copies of, say, 50s and 60s DJs on older 30s and 40s books and they'd sell like crazy and for high prices. It's in a swank tourist area right by the Chaurauqua Institution, which gets wealthy visitors from all over the world. Now they have only color copies and they are labled as such.

I've also seen them with the notice: Dust jacket reproduction by (collector's name).


Robert said...

Some copiers are equipped to handle larger paper sizes, usually through an auxillary paper tray. Engineering firms frequently have to print out plans on larger paper, usually 17" x 22". Engineering paper also comes in 18" x 24", 22" x 34", 24" x 36", and 34" x 44". So it is indeed possible to print out a complete dust jacket on one sheet of paper. Of course, the quality of the paper would probably also signify that it's a copy.

beautifulshell said...

jennifer - i was just wondering what your general feelings are on auctions with reserves. i just won one, but in general, as a buyer, i hate them...i would much rather just know what the seller wants for something. do you ever sell with reserves? do you have any particular strategy for bidding on things with reserves?