Managing your collection

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Keeping track of your books

You will want to create a database to keep track of the books in your collection. We use Filemaker, which some commercial Book Databases use, too. Our homemade database is very flexible and quite satisfactory. Let us know if you would like a tab delimited version of the book record for a book you have purchased from us, or if you would like us to email the jpgs we have on file for that book.

Insuring your books

Consult your insurance agent if you feel your books should be listed, otherwise keeping a file of invoices and your database records should suffice.

Having books appraised

A reputable dealer will not appraise sight unseen. Don't even ask. A legitimate bookseller will not appraise a book he or she intends to purchase, either. If a dealer offers to do either of these things, watch out. People frequently ask us what a book is worth, either because they are curious or because they want to list on Ebay or Amazon. We suggest they find a comparable book on, and advise them to pay close attention to edition and condition.

We do not do appraisals. For a reliable appraisal, look for an Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) dealer in your area. Pick a dealer who lists children's book appraisals as a specialty.  Dealers in books for adults often know very little about children's books outside of the classics. And vice versa, I might add.


Researching your collection

As your collection grows, you will want to do some research. Our Books for Collectors is a good place to start.  Enjoy your detective work! Eventually, you may find yourself an authority on one small corner of the world of children's books.

Interlibrary loan makes a huge amount of material available; use the World Cat link on the Links for Collectors page to find a library near you. More obscure 19th century authors can be researched through thesis collections in any university library. For 20th century authors and illustrators, in addition to biographies, look through contemporary children's literature journals, like The Horn Book, contemporary bibliographies published by libraries, and books on children's publishing.  (Treat yourself to Dear Genius, the letters of Ursula Nordstrom)

Research on your collection may lead you far afield: you can visit Beatrix Potter's farm, spend a week at the Kerlan collection, or even spend a summer studying your favorite author at Simmons College. From your home, you can become a member of an author association or visit the major collections on-line.

As you continue to learn more about your field, it's likely that you will know more about your particular topic than most general booksellers. You may want to publish an essay in a collector's magazine or an on-line journal or review. You may create a blog. You may even build an entire website!

A bright example of what private collectors can create can be seen at Children's Picturebook Collecting, Offering Information on Contemporary Illustrated Books. Look at its beautiful pictures, study first edition points, and find their research into the collectibility of authors and illustrators. Note: 8/11 When I first wrote this article, Zielinski's were collectors who maintained this wonderful site; now they are the authors of Children's Picturebook Collecting, available on Amazon.

You may also become an authority in your chosen field of collecting, like so many of the specialist bibliographers mentioned on this site. Look at Linda Young's  A Tribute to St. Nicholas home page documenting the development of the finest children's magazine in the United States and listing the contents of many volumes.. This page has been put together carefully over the years; it is the most complete information on this very important part of American child culture outside of academia, a real contribution.