The contents of the book don’t have value, the marginalia might

To answer that by way of illustration and example, I was giving a talk a few years ago to a group of librarians back home about provenance and the importance of historical evidence, and one of them came up to me at the end and said I work in the Library of the Royal Society of Medicine, I recently accessioned a contemporary book that had belonged to a distinguished living haematologist, which had his pencil notes on the flyleaf commenting on a recently introduced drug, saying how ineffective it was and how it shouldn’t be used. Of course, he said, I had to rub those out before putting it on the shelf, as it wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone to see them. To which I said, You did what? That was probably the only part of that book that had long-term historical value; the text probably exists in an online version already and if it doesn’t now, it will do one day.

David Pearson at: