Book Dealer vs Book Scout

Book Dealer vs Book Scout

Book Buying Process

At its basic level, there are three parties involved in the book buying process: 1. book collector, 2. book scout, and 3. book dealer. The first party is self-explanatory, an individual that loves to purchase books. In this article, we explain the difference between the next two parties and why you should consider buying from them.

Book Dealer vs Book Scout

Book Dealer
The main difference between a book dealer and a book scout is the concept of retail, which does not necessarily mean brick and mortar. Some book dealers have all the luck with leads coming in from phone calls, emails, book scouts who are shopping their items, and from other book dealers generous enough to provide a lead. Dealers also tend to stick with the higher end books in terms of both price and condition. These include modern hardcover books only with dust jackets in pristine condition, tight bindings, first printings, and likely a signature or association copy (which is a book with ties to a notable person that ties to the author). Any antique bindings a book dealer possesses will be well-preserved or appropriately restored by a skilled bookbinder. Books of that caliber demand the upper end of the market price, sometimes beyond what seems reasonable if there is no comparable item. Last but not least, dealers tend to be experts and specialize in a select few categories such as time period, genre, writing style, and even a type of book binding.

Book Scout
On the other hand, a book scout is searching for an item on their own and will rarely have leads come to them. A book scout essentially acts as a sourcing option for dealers to utilize, but it takes a considerable amount of time and luck for the scout to acquire better items that dealers actually desire. The books they find will not always be in the best condition, including tattered or missing dust jackets, worn covers, later printings, and random “autographs” (yes, we’re being facetious) from previous owners instead of the author. Booksets will occasionally be incomplete or lacking the luster of a fine item. Book scouts usually settle for a much lower price on higher value items and also entertain purchasing books that might be well past their prime. In a nutshell, a book scout will settle for any book that meets their minimum criteria, such as profit margin, book sales ranking, etc.

Who Should You Buy From?

To answer this question, we will stay true to our inner obsession with Star Wars, we’ll use a quote from Episode II – Attack of the Clones, when Dexter Jettster talks with Obi-Wan on the friendliness of the Kaminos, “That depends. On how well your manners are, and how big your pocketbook is.” A book scout is willing to flip their books over faster without receiving a retail price on their books; they really want the best price they can get but will also settle when it appears it will take considerable time to sell their item. High-end book collectors may only want to work with book dealers for basic reasons as they have items that are rare, genuine, pristine, and may possess a distinguished provenance. On the other hand, book scouts can also procure books of that caliber at a better value, albeit with a lower level of occurrence; in other words, they might not have an entire bookstore packed with high-end items but they might still have what you desire. Depending on your budget and the books that you’re seeking, you might be able to work solely with book dealers. However, there is nothing wrong with going directly with a book scout and seeing what they have first as it might just save you money to work directly with the middleman.

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