Chessler Books
Rock Climbing - Mountaineering - Exploration
New - Used - Collectible - Signed
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J K L M Mc N O P Q

FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Q.   How can you compete with Amazon? How has Chessler Books survived when most independent booksellers, plus Borders and Barnes and Noble are gone or struggling?

A.   Amazon's original business model, of listing everything, is terrific. However Amazon has used the same unethical pricing techniques that Standard Oil did 100 years ago. They sell books (and much more) at a loss to put the competition out of business, and then raise their prices when the competition is dead. We no longer carry many new books that they sell very cheaply. But incredibly we do stock and sell thousands of books that they do not have, or where we have books autographed by the author or climbers, and thereby make it a more desirable object than they have. We also have built up a huge inventory over 35 years of both new and used books, that neither they nor anybody else can usually match.


Q.   When will I get my order?
A.    Usually in a few days. We ship Tuesdays and Thursdays. You have two choices, Priority Mail and Media Mail. Priority Mail takes 2-7 days, Media Mail takes 1-2 weeks. We don't use UPS or FedEx. During December we ship daily. 
We do not ship the day you place your order, and we do not offer Overnight, Express or One Day Service. We do not use tracking.

Q.    How do you price your books?
A.    We sell both new and used books. For new books, we generally charge the publisher's recommended retail price, but may charge less or more, depending on whether we have added value by getting the book signed by the author, or if it has lost value by being on our shelves too long. 

On-Line bookselling has affected our bookshop as it has most bookshops, and indeed almost all of retail sales. In general it has made many books, new and used, more common, and has thus reduced their price. In many cases we have reduced prices due to internet competition. However it has also raised prices on books where the demand outstrips supply.
We do add value to many hardcover books by adding a protective Brodart plastic cover to the dust jacket of many new and used hardcover books.
We sell many imported books, which are very expensive to import. Some books cost us $10+ each in inbound shipping charges alone. So then we just charge a fair price above our cost with some room for profit.
Used and out of print books have no recommended retail price. We have sold over half a million climbing books since 1984, so we have a good idea of what the market price is for most books. But we may be lower or higher than other bookshops on some books, which may be due to the specific book's condition, dust jacket, edition, rarity, signatures, etc. No two bookshops will be identical, just as no two airlines will always charge the same price.
Q.   Can I visit your bookshop?
A.   We don't maintain an open bookshop anymore, we closed it in 2001. It is no longer possible to visit our bookshop.
Q.   Can I get a catalog?
A.   We issued 120 real paper catalogs from 1984 to 2003 (yes, 6-10 a year for twenty years!) We now issue a virtual catalog almost every week, by e-mail. Please send us your e-mail address and we will notify you when we have new items, when things go on sale, etc.  When the world went digital, so did we. This website has 10 times as many books as our old catalogs did, plus almost 10,000 color photos and much longer descriptions. Plus it is much easier to search for items by author, title or keyword. And of course we can add and delete books every day.
Q.   Do you buy books?
A.   Yes. We buy mountaineering book collections, or individual titles all the time! If you have mountaineering books to sell, please call us at 720 560-4963, or e-mail us at . If your books are good enough, we will even travel to your home, pack the books, and leave you with a nice check!
In general, we like to buy hardcover books, older books that are not so common, signed books, and books that may retail at over $50. We like old and obscure guidebooks. We do not usually buy magazines such as Summit, Mountain, Rock and Ice or Climbing unless they are full sets.  We buy American Alpine Journals between 1929-1960. After the 1970 issue, we bought out the Alpine Club and have zillions of copies.    
Q.    Can you tell me how much my old book is worth?
A.    Yes, if it is an simple answer. 
Q.    Are books are a good investment? Will my book collection appreciate in value?
A.    Books go up and down in price. In the 1980s and 1990s, books tended to increase in value. In the 2000s the pressure of the internet, market and economy has been lowering prices. No matter what you collect, do it for the love of it, the pleasure the items give you, and not for some hoped for profit.  Mountaineering books are at the low end of the price range of collectible books.

There are more reliable, and more liquid investments than books. Remember, you are buying at retail and may be selling at wholesale.
Although books and many collectible are in a price slump in the 21st century, I predict that after a few decades real books MAY become scarce again and more collectible.
Q.   How should I store my books to protect them? Should I put my name in my books?
A.   The good news is that the best way to store books is upright on a bookshelf, the way they were designed to be displayed. The only thing that normally damages books is water. Keep them off the floor, away from little children and pets, and not in a room that can get flooded from a broken pipe, hurricane or a leaky roof, and you will be okay.

Book dust jackets can be worth more than the books, so put clear plastic book jacket covers on all your dust jackets, and do it when the books are still new and perfect. Never lend a book that you want to see again. The 'rule' is don't use a bookplate or write your name in your books unless you are famous, and don't ask Chris Bonington to inscribe a book to you if you expect to ever sell it, or unless you climb as well as he does. You own your books, so you may of course put your name in your books, and inscribe books you give as gift, but it will hurt their value.  But for a $25 book, do you really care?  
Q.    Can you give me advice on writing or publishing my book? Can you give me Jon Krakauer's E-mail address so I can ask him for advice? Can I send you my book to get it signed by Reinhold Messner for me? Can you give me Messner's address so I can send it to him for an autograph? 
A.    No, writing books and publishing are not my fields of expertise. No, I have to respect his privacy. No, I tried doing that and its too difficult to keep track of. No, authors have told me that they really hate getting books in the mail to sign. 
Q.     What to the words and abbreviations Fine, Very Good, Good, DJ, Ex Lib, FEP, Remainder Mark, mean?

A.     Booksellers have come up with a standard set of words to described the CONDITION of used books as they suffer the indignities of ageing. As we sell both New and Used books, we usually say 'New' for new books, but if we do not say anything, you can presume the book is New, not used. Also, all books on our website are hardcovers and in English unless stated otherwise (such as paperback, pamphlet, etc.)

Once a book as been owned, read and then sold, it often starts showing its age, and its condition has a great effect on its value.  Many books are desired by both readers and collectors, so if collectors have driven up the price of Fine copies, a lesser condition copy may be a good choice for a reader, or a recent paperback reprint may be available.


     New or As New - A brand new, unused, unread book in fresh condition. As New is an older but still New looking book.  If we do not specify a condition, it is usually a New book. Half our books are New Books, half are used. We still have many books that we bought new from the 1980s to 2010s in stock, and still call them New. If we do not state a condition, and the date is between 1986 and 2018, chances are it is a new book. We do not put condition on New Guidebooks, New Maps, New DVDs, Posters, etc.

     Fine - A nice used book with no significant flaws, but not as fresh as a New book. ed book with minor flaws.   Near Fine means real nice but not perfect.

    Very Good or VG - The cover may have spine, edge or shelf wear, the corners may be bumped, it may have a torn, chipped or price clipped dust jacket. It may have a previous owner's name or bookplate in the book. Most used books are Very Good or Fine.

    GoodGood really means Not Good. A not so nice used book, with more wear or appearance problems than a VG book. It may have extensive wear, the DJ may have pieces missing, or display other flaws such as water stains.  Poor condition books have their flaws described.

   Ex Lib and RSM. Ex Lib means a book with library marks on the spine or jacket, and sometimes a pocket, labels or rubber stamp marks (RSM) inside from a library. Some library books may still be in Fine condition, while some are rebound or trashed, which are described.
   FEP - REP
Front (rear) end paper, the blank pages at the front and rear of a book. Often these get written on by previous owners of a used book.

   TEG and AEG: Top or all edges gilded (or gilt.) This adds class  to a book, and makes them easier to dust.
   Dust Jacket or DJ 
- Most hardcover books since 1920 have dust jackets, which are paper covers designed to help sell the book. On many books they have helped preserve the condition of the book as well. Many collectors prize Fine Dust Jackets, and as it was once common to discard them, the value of the DJ can exceed that of the book. A Chipped DJ has small edge pieces missing, a torn DJ has closed tears that may be invisible under a clear book jacket cover. If we describe a book as DJ, Fine, it is understood that the book is a hardcover. Some paperbacks have DJs, usually from France, where they are also called Wrappers. Some hardcover books have pictorial covers, with a color photo on the book itself, and no DJ came with the book. Wikipedia has a good essay on Dust Jackets:

    Pictorial Cover:  Some books have the artwork that might appear on a paper dust jacket, but instead it is actually printed on the book cover itself. This feature has been around for many decades, but in this decade (2010s) we have noticed more hardcover books published with a pictorial cover and no dust jacket.

    Remainder mark - A small felt pen mark on the bottom edge of the pages. Publishers use remainder marks to prevent book returns. Some of our Sale books have remainder marks. They may be made with dark marker, or a yellow highlighter and be almost invisible.

    RSM - Rubber stamp mark. This is usually a name and/or address stamp from a former owner of the book, or from a library that once owned the book. This is usually found on the FEP, or inside the covers.

   Tipped In: This refers to an additional item, often called ephemera. It is usually a card with the author's signature, or a letter or newspaper clipping, that is not physically part of the book, but is included, usually by being glued onto one of the Blank Front Endpapers, or in the case of a signature possiblly on the title page. If it is not glued we say Inserted or Included.
Q.  What do the terms Front (Rear) End Paper etc mean?
A.  The first and last blank pages in a book. Here are all the terms:

Please note that, to differentiate them from soft-covers and paperbacks, modern hardbacks are still invariably described as being ‘cloth’ when they are, in fact, predominantly bound in plastic or paper-covered boards pressed to resemble cloth.

Q.   How do I know that the signatures on the books or Ice Axes that Chessler Books sells are real, and not fake? Does Chessler offer a 'Certificate of Authenticity?'
A.   Chessler Books has been the world's leading bookseller of Mountaineering Books since 1984, and has a world-wide reputation for excellent products and service. However, due to the reach of the Internet, we meet new customers every day who do not know about us, and desire more than word of mouth to know that what they are getting is the real thing.
We have always liked authors to sign our books personally, and now try to get as many books as possible signed as it enhances the value, and allows us to offer a book that is worth more than what other booksellers are offering, thus allowing us to make a profit and stay in business. In many cases, we charge just the normal cover price for a new book that is signed, and only charge extra if it was expensive to get the book signed, or if the book is scarce anyway.
In several places in this website, we describe our many visits to see the world's greatest climbers, Sir Edmund Hillary, Heinrich Harrer, Anderl Heckmair, Maurice Herzog, Reinhold Messner, Peter Habeler, Sir Chris Bonington, Sir Doug Scott, Jim Whittaker, Royal Robbins, Charles Houston, Bob Bates, Bradford Washburn, Fred Beckey, Layton Kor, Conrad Anker, Lynn Hill, John Gill, Steve Roper, Allen Steck, Yvon Chouinard, Jon Krakauer, David Breashears, David Roberts, Peter Hillary, Ed Viesturs, Joe Simpson, Simon Yates, Pete Takeda, Steve House, Pat Ament, Hans Florine, Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, plus dozens more.
Just the enormity of the task of getting books signed should tell you that it is real. We do not know of any other bookseller in the world who has gone to the effort to get as many books signed as we do, in any field. Of course authors will almost always sign your books for free,
but you have to go and meet them, and spend several hours. Also, fewer authors and climbers are doing book tours, so may be hard to meet. We flew across the Pacific Ocean 14 times (7 R/T's) from 2001-2007 just to meet with Ed Hillary. My butt still hurts.
Certificates of Authenticity

We live in two worlds, the climbing world and the book world. In neither world is the use of a 'Certificates of Authenticity' a common practice. Our personal feeling is that COA's are used to sell cheap massed produced fake collectibles such as you buy on a TV shopping channel or eBay, and their use would actually debase what we do. If you want a fake Newspaper Page of the moon landing signed by Buzz Aldrin, get a COA. If you want a true first edition of Heinrich Harrer's White Spider, which he signed for us in his Museum in Huttenberg Austria, and by Anderl Heckmair that he signed for us in his kitchen in Oberstdorf German, just a few years before they passed away, buy from us.
Some customers have told us they want a COA so that when they or their descendants sell the book sometime in the future, they can provide proof that the signatures are real. Our only reply can be, they are asking us to help make a sale between two people, neither of whom are our customers, and both of whom may not even be born yet! I am afraid that is not part of our job description.
You may see Signed Books similar to ours on other Book Dealer's websites on the Internet, but at higher prices. Does that mean that their copies are somehow better than ours? Not really, as many of them bought their copies from us!
Q.  Who is Michael Chessler?
A.  This was a reasonable likeness, before I got old and gray.
See the 'About Us' link on any page for more information about Michael Chessler.

Q.  Are your books in English?

A.  Yes, all books are new hardcovers, and in English unless stated otherwise.  We always say what language(s) a book is in if not in English, or if in languages in addition to English.  We usually state where a book was published, and surprisingly many non-English speaking countries publish books in English as it is now the most commonly spoken language in the western world (and third world-wide after Mandarin and Spanish.) It is the most common second language in the world. It is the international language of books, and of mountaineering, and we are a mountaineering bookseller!