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"A lot of weird things happen, so people must understand all the intricacies of collecting. There can be all kinds of first editions, but differences in prices result from distinctions in the bindings, the extent of repairs, whether or not a book is autographed, if it contains a printed dedication and if there are plates or illustrations in the book. Condition is the unifying concept, yet real collectors find a niche and gravitate towards one or two major antiquarian booksellers."
Relying on an experienced advisor can certainly help new bibliophiles discover a specialty such as travel, art or 20th-century fiction. They're also experts at appraising a book's overall condition. Determining values has always been a confounding process, but it's becoming even more harrowing now that assorted scam artists are doctoring books to profit from the soaring prices.
These counterfeiters are touting repaired or completely replaced bindings as original, colorizing black-and-white atlas plates to increase their appeal and doctoring pages to remove creases and tears. Benefiting from the advances in printing technology, they are also forging entire dust jackets.
Counterfeiting has become such a high art form, even experts like Kraus and New Haven, Conn., bookseller William Reese have been fooled. Kraus purchased a Catcher in the Rye with a mechanically reproduced wrapper—or jacket—at a Sotheby's auction after wrongly assuming the book had been pre-screened.