Find Out What Your Old or Rare Books Are Worth at Park Slope Shop

By Nikhita Venugopal on May 5, 2014 5:38pm 

 Heather O'Donnell, a rare book dealer, is hosting a "Know Your Books" event at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope on May 7.
Heather O'Donnell, a rare book dealer, is hosting a "Know Your Books" event at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope on May 7.
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Flickr/Samuel John

PARK SLOPE — Ever wondered whether your grandfather’s dusty copy of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was worth something?

Heather O’Donnell, a rare-book dealer, is offering a free appraisal of old and rare books Wednesday night at a “Know Your Books” event at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope.

Customers are encouraged to bring any books that they have questions about, said O’Donnell, who is the owner and founder of Honey & Wax Booksellers in Gowanus.

Last year, O’Donnell, 43, hosted a similar event at the Park Slope bookshop, where people had a chance to discuss the stories behind unusual family heirlooms or even impulse purchases that they thought might be valuable, she said.

While a book could turn out to be a “diamond in the rough,” most are quite common, she said.

O’Donnell will also show customers at the event a few books that she has collected and is appraising, including a meticulously maintained scrapbook with about 1,500 colored covers of Japanese matchbooks dating back to the 1920s and 1930s.

The book, for which O’Donnell paid $4,000, is being translated and could be valuable as a visual history of Japan, she said.

Some of the most interesting pieces aren’t even published, said O’Donnell. At the previous event, a man brought in an obscure manuscript that could have historical value, she said.

“You never really know what’s going to walk through the door,” she said.

After working as an English professor at Princeton University, O’Donnell spent seven years at Bauman Rare Books, an antiquarian book firm in New York. She then opened Honey & Wax Booksellers in 2011, she said.

Although her specialty is English Literature, O’Donnell encourages bookworms to bring in all kinds of books, even to determine whether a book is a first edition or not.

“It’s not always something you can just quickly Google and figure out,” she said.

Know Your Books will occur on May 7 at 7 p.m. at the Community Bookstore, 143 Seventh Ave. in Brooklyn. RSVP here.

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