The late Clyde Harbin, unless you happened to be a lure collector some years ago, was hardly a household name. Clyde, over many years, amassed a huge collection of fishing lures and wrote several notable books on Heddon lures.
He was called “The Bassman” by all who knew him, and he was a wise investor in fishing lures. He and I knew each other fairly well, and he had a profound saying that he applied to buying and selling lures, and it’s one I’ve never forgotten: “Ain’t nothin’ worth nothin’ ‘less somebody wants it.”
It also applies to the buying and selling of fishing and hunting books, which I do a good bit of, and almost anything else of value. You can’t sell me your books unless you have something I want, and I can’t sell my books if no one wants to buy them. Somewhere during the buying and selling process, Clyde Harbin’s southern drawl and his comment always comes home to roost.
Book buying & book selling calls for honesty.
I have bought and sold books for more than 40 years. I’ve missed some sales because people dislike selling books to a person they don’t know, but people like me cannot buy books sight unseen. I try to tell potential sellers that I am honest, but need to see what is for sale before I spend my money on it. Verbal descriptions, unless the other person is in the book business, often are not very accurate or reliable. The reason; many people don’t know the terminology.
I’ve had two sales this week. The money made is hardly enough to send me joyfully on an Alaskan hunting trip. But those two people trusted my name and reputation, sent me their hard-earned money, and I sent them good books. The reverse is true: someone sends me fishing or hunting books, I look them over, determine their value, and if my offer seems fair, I buy them.
All of this began many years ago because I love to read. Reading is something that comes naturally to me. You see, I grew up reading.
Many of my readers know I collect books on fishing and hunting. How many of you know that I buy fishing and hunting books, and sell such books as well? Not many so I’m putting out the word.
Start looking for fishing or hunting books now.
The days of getting ready for winter are here, and probably sooner than later, our spouses will suggest cleaning the attic, basement, barn, garage or spare room. Often, in one of these spots, will be some books. There invariably will be some Reader’s Digest books, which are very common and virtually worthless, and there may be some children’s books from an earlier era. In some cases there may be books on fishing and hunting, and it is those I am interested in.
They may be common, fairly common or scarce. There are literally thousands of common fishing or hunting titles, which may sell for $5 or less. Some are worth more money, and a very select few are worth a hundred dollars or more. How do you know which ones are worth good money and which ones are not?
You ask Dave Richey. I’ve been in this buying-selling game for year, and I also do book appraisals. I’ve spent 18 years compiling a bibliography of fishing, hunting and natural history titles written in the English language. This book will be published when completed, but the half this is completed lists values (where known) of over 30,000 different fishing or hunting titles.
Modesty aside, I am as close to being an expert on fishing and hunting book values as anyone can get. I know what they are worth, and pay fair prices when I buy them.
A bit about me and my honesty.
I’ve been a full-time outdoor writer for 42 years, and was the staff outdoor writer for The Detroit News in Detroit, Michigan for 23+ years. Major metroplitan daily newspapers do not hire dishonest or unreliable people to work that long for me. I am a Life member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and was awarded that organizition’s highest honor for longtime service. I am an award-winning outdoor writer with many major writing awards. I don’t lie to people, and am honest in my dealings. One doesn’t maintain his high degree of acceptance by being dishonest.
What am I looking for? I’m looking for a list of books you have that contain the author’s name, book title, publisher, date of publication, and whether it is a hardcover (with or without dust jacket) or paperback. I am not looking for books that have childish crayon scribbling, whiskey glass sweat rings and I do not want ex-library books with card pockets, ink stampings of a library, and I don’t buy musty books or those with covers ripped off or missing.
Buying books is much like buying a car. Neither you nor I would buy a car that won’t start, is missing two tires, the windshield is broken and the door handle is missing on one side. But, people with books for sale often think a book with a missing page, photo plate or cover is worth money. A first printing of the Gutenberg Bible with the front cover detached but present would be worth some money, but such is not the case for the books I collect, buy, sell and read.
I want to buy books in good to fine condition. I ask you to spend 15 minutes and print out the authors name, book title, year published, and if it is hardcover or paperback. Send the list to me via email, and I will respond within two days. I am not in the market to spend time haggling (although I gladly will if someone wants to sell me a book that really turns my crank) over price. Set a price for each book, and if you are too low, I will make a higher counter-offer. If the book(s) are not what I can use, I will let you know immediately and return them.
Some books are very common, and I am not in the market for Byron Dalrymple or Vlad Evanoff titles at any price. There are many others I don’t want, but bear one thing in mind: good books have a look about them. They are well done, printed on good paper, the bindings are tight, and the book has all its pages. A book missing just one page is next door to worthless. A book with an inked owners signature is worth less than one without it unless the book was signed by the author.
A good book is worth more with a dust jacket or with a leather cover and slipcase. Paperbacks are generally worth less than a hardcover book, although there are a very few exceptions to that rule.
What kind of books do I need?
What do I want to buy? I’m looking for books about ruffed grouse or wild turkey hunting. I need good trout fishing titles. Some deer hunting books published before 1980 are desirable. Some muskie fishing titles are books that can find a home with me, as is true with books by Robert Traver. Books published by Amwell Press, Briar Patch Press, Safari Press, Derrydale Press, Premier Press or Trophy Room Books are some publishers I look for, and I’m not interested in most anthologies, bass books, titles about raccoon hunting, and books that cover many different outdoor topics.
I also have books I will trade for your desirable titles. Remember one thing: outdoor books, by and large, sell for $5-10 on the used-book market. Some sell for hundreds of dollars. Not all outdoor books are scarce and worth big money; in fact, very few are. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have several books that may make you a few hundred dollars, but remember that such books are scarce. Scarce means they were printed in very low numbers, and time has seen many lost to fires or landfills. A scarce book is one that may be found perhaps once or twice over several years by a busy bookseller.
Know too that booksellers (and buyers like me) must make a profit if we are to stay in business. Show me a $100 book, and depending on author and title and my needs at the time, I will probably offer $50 for it. If it is a $10 book, and I want it for a customer, I may spend $3-5 for it. Some may think this unfair, but doing business means making some money. Books may not sell for one or two years. That means I have money tied up for up to two years on a hunch that it might sell. This requires me to buy books at a fair but discounted price. Any honest bookseller will tell potential sellers the same thing
If you have a $100 book, and try to sell it yourself for that price, it’s very likely you’ll still have the book for two or more years. It’s entirely possible you’ll never sell it.
Book prices go up and down in value.
Books also go up and down in price according to the never-ending law of supply and demand. If the demand is high, and the book is difficult to find, people (including honest booksellers) will pay more money for it. If the book is common, and there is no demand, no one will buy it. That is why they call it doing business.
So, with these thoughts in mind, if you find some fishing and hunting books this year while cleaning out the attic, barn, basement or garage, or if you inherit some books from a deceased relative, 15 minutes of your time may provide some extra money. If the book is scarce, and I ask to examine it, I will pay your postage for mailing it to me for a seven-day examination period plus an offer of whatever I feel the book is worth to me. When books are mailed, they should be sent by 1st class mail, insured and with delivery confirmation that the book has been delivered and received by me. This guards you and/or me from someone saying they didn’t get the book(s).
I’m just about out of space. In the coming weeks, please look over your spare fishing and hunting books, and let me know what is available. I will make a fair offer for any book I decide I may buy, and will pay your shipping fee. One doesn’t stay in this business long without being fair and honest, and I’d like to prove it to you. In the event you are looking for a specific book, check out Scoop’s Books on this website. If you seek a specific title, and it’s not listed here, let me know what book you want and I will do a no-charge search.
I have conducted no-charge searches for many people. It’s one of my services, and although there are many books that are difficult to find, if a copy exists and it is for sale, I can often track it down for a client.