How do you know a Great Book?

A sure fire way to answer this question is looking for books that sell more used than they did new.  It is a simple measure of standing the test of time!

Today, popular hardback books sell for $20 or more.  However, within a year or two even New York Times best sellers will command only 30 to 50 percent of the original price.  After a few more years, you can find these works on the internet for a few dollars. Finally, after a few more years these popular books can be purchased at yard sales for a dollar or less.

Jackson Turner Main’s quintessential  “The Social Structure of Revolutionary America” is an example of a great book which is more valuable today. New in 1965, it sold for $6.50.  Last week I purchased a copy in a D.C. used book store for $8.50.  Turner is well known for being one of the first historians to use quantitative methods and for investigating probate records to interpret history.  His ideas still have value which is confirmed by the sale prices of his books today.

Next time you are in a used book store, do a price check. I bet you will be most pleased walking out with books that sell for more today, than when they were first published.

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