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Books become rare only when the demand for them is greater than the supply. The demand for a book is generated by a number of elements which affect a book's desirability and therefore its price. Some of these elements include:
Quality of the binding;
Scarcity of the edition;
Whether the books literary genre is fashionable.
Rare books are, by their nature, less common than second-hand books. While there is no clear boundary between rare books and second-hand books for the most part, a second-hand book is a used book that is not distinguished by its edition, provenance, binding, or overall condition; its retail price generally is quite modest.
For more information, including general answers to some frequently asked questions about rare books, see the website Your old books.
The National Library Magazine Sept 2010 includes an article on rare books within our collection.
See also the FAQ Can the Library value an item for me?
Author: General Reference Enquiry