The Captain's Book Buying Guide

Bottom Line: The Captain buys science fiction, fantasy, and horror in generally any condition.

He is currently buying LARGE PRINT BOOKS of any type (in good condition).

The Captain is not buying college textbooks.

Is the Captain buying other kinds of books? (Answer is yes. Please call to discuss.)

Please call the Shoppe to set up an appointment.

Captain’s Book Shoppe Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Book Buying Guide

Phone (319) 351-3166

1570 S. 1st Avenue, Suite H

Iowa City, Iowa 52240


August 4, 2021

Updated October 28, 2022

1. Captain’s Book Shoppe buys books only by appointment. Please call before you bring books into the store.

  • Please set up an appointment by calling the bookstore at (319) 351-3166.

  • Please avoid coordinating your initial appointment via text or email.

  • Numerous factors go into setting up an appointment.

  • Telephonic discussion between the buyer and seller is the preferred method to set up the initial appointment.

2. This guide is how Captain's Book Shoppe LLC, as a singular, independent used book dealer, evaluates items for potential resale. Your item(s) may have value, and it maybe marketable with a different vendor or if you sell it yourself.

3. The book market changes with the tides. One day a specific out of print book by Otep Shamaya will be at $60. The next day, that very book will drop on the internet to five dollars. Book values and what is selling literally fluctuates like the stock market. If you desire to maximize your cash payout for the books that you sell to Captain’s Book Shoppe, please follow these tips.

4. The Captain and crew buys science fiction, fantasy, and horror paperbacks in nearly any condition. He also buys softbound or hardbound graphic novels, if in superb condition.

5. Certain items have potential value such as comic books and certain magazines.

a. The Captain is currently not buying comic books but will accept donated comic books in any condition.

b. The Captain does not buy magazines.

c. No records. Exceptions are if a book was published and it came with a 45 record... etc...

d. No VHS, DVD movies. (No cassette tapes). Exceptions are a book was published and a CD / DVD or other media came with the book.

f. Captain's Book Shoppe LLC will not buy textbooks.

6. The Captain's Book Shoppe LLC sells all genre of used fiction and non-fiction, therefore the Captain maybe interested in acquiring your books. Book condition is a critical factor.

7. The Book Shoppe accepts book donations during normal store hours. Captain's Book Shoppe LLC does not provide a written monetary valuation of the donated books. (Appraisals are invalid, if the appraiser had a financial interest in the items.)

8. This guide will be modified as conditions change.

Book Condition Matters.

The buyer prefers hardbound books published in 1980 or later to be in near perfect condition with a dustjacket. The Captain is less critical of book condition prior to 1980, but book condition remains a primary factor concerning book value. The store does not purchase modern books with a bad spine. defines “spine” as: “The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf. Also known as the back.”[1] Modern books with defects are easily obtainable at local thrift stores for a few dollars. Modern hardbound fiction requires few defects to have resale value. Therefore, the book buyer scrutinizes book condition. defines “cocked” as: “Refers to a state where the spine of a book is lightly "twisted" in such a way that the front and rear boards of a book do not align when the book is lying flat. Severity may differ.”[2]

The way to check for a cocked spine is to stand your book on a hard surface. Look down at the book. If the has difficulty standing or the spine is askew, the book will be difficult to sell. Few book collectors are looking for books with bad spines.

Book spines become cocked when too many books are squeezed onto a bookshelf. They also become cocked when a vast amount of weight is stacked on top of the book.

Book Boxes

The Captain occasionally buys books by the box. U-Haul sells book boxes. The largest box of books the Captain accepts are the small U-Haul Boxes. Please avoid packing vast numbers of books into large boxes. Bulk packs damage the spines of the books. Secondly, the boxes are incredibly heavy.

Egg boxes, small banker file boxes, photocopy paper boxes with lids are also ideal containers for books.

Large boxes are very tempting for packing up an estate or when moving. The photo is an example of what not to do. You could have a $4,000 First Edition Catcher in the Rye book tucked in such a large box. What is simply one heavy, poorly packed box will turn into more and more. All stacked on top of each other. (Stack four heavy and poorly packed boxes on top of each other, will the collectable book remain unscarred?) Bring in a fifty pound box of back breaking and book-spine-breaking books; the book buyer will offer you one dollar for the entire box. Please do not bring books with mold or insects into the store.

The book buyer will gladly go out to your vehicle and check the books that were at one time stored in a barn, attic, or basement. Yes, there could be a hidden treasure in those boxes. Books are often stored in harsh conditions. They maybe dusty. There might be a few leaves in the box... The crew has no issues checking the items outside of the store. Thank you, for your understanding and assistance in protecting the books that are in the Captain's Book Shoppe.

Are My Books Worth a Lot of Money?

The tools on Captain's Book Shoppe's internet "Book Value Tab" will give you insights as to why some books gain value over time, such as Catcher in the Rye. If you are looking to make your own assessment of your book or books you may wish to start with: How Much is a Book Worth (Book Collecting Guide).

Note: The Captain does not pay full "secondary" retail value for books. Depending upon genre, and book condition as a general guideline, the Captain buys books for around 25% of the list price he estimates he can successfully sell the book. There are a lot of prices on the internet. If fifty copies of the same paperback are selling at .99 on the internet, and there is somebody selling the book at over $200... what price do you think the Captain will offer to buy the book?

The answer depends upon what the market is projected to do, but if there are fifty books in the market at .99, expecting a lot of money from a book buyer, is probably not going to happen.

The Economics of Vintage Books that Have Been Digitized

Times change. Books that were once highly sought after and worth a fair sum of money, may not be successfully trading at the prices once remembered. There is certainly a chance the market for that specific book may trend back up, though the Captain remains in business because he buys low and sells a bit higher.


Thank you for giving Captain’s Book Shoppe LLC the opportunity to review your books. This guide was drafted to help buyers and sellers maximize their profits.

[1] Spine - Glossary of Book Collecting Terminology (Accessed August 4, 2021)

[2] Cocked - Glossary of Book Collecting Terminology (Accessed August 4. 2021)








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