A book appraisal is a determination of the value of a book. Book appraisal is a routine part of the work at used bookstores and antique firms which handle books, and both of these types of businesses are good sources of recommendations for book appraisers. For laypeople who are not familiar with the ins and outs of book values, getting a book appraisal can be very important before selling or disposing of a book.
Book appraisers consider a number of factors when they assess a book to determine its value. The condition of the book is one factor, but so is the title, the edition, and the rarity of the book. Considered together, these factors can be used to build a picture of how much the book would sell for on the open market or at auction, and the estimate of value will be included in the appraisal report.
Just because a book is old doesn't mean it is valuable, and the same holds true for first editions. A faded, shopworn volume may be quite valuable because of its rarity, while a pristine book with an author's autograph may be of little interest. In order to know how much a book is worth, someone needs experience in the book dealing and literature trade. Many book dealers have stories about finding diamonds in the rough at thrift stores, yard sales, and other peculiar places, illustrating the fact that the value of a book is often hidden. Unscrupulous dealers may even knowingly pay a very low price to an unwary seller for a book which they know to be valuable in order to profit.
There are a number of reasons to seek out book appraisal. For collectors of rare books, having a book appraised before purchase, if possible, is a very good idea, and appraisals can also raise the sale value of a book, when they are conducted by a reputable source. Some people also like to specifically insure their rare and valuable books, in which case the appraisal may be required by the insurance appraisal. Appraisal may also be requested in the course of valuing an estate.
As with any type of appraisal, it is a good idea to get a book appraisal from a neutral party, to ensure that the appraisal is honest and the valuation is fair. Insurance companies, bookstores, antique dealers, and auction houses can all make recommendations, and people should avoid having a book appraised by someone who has an interest in the sale of the book.