Things from Thing Stores

Eclectic accumulation via thrift store shopping

Thomas Bros. map books now out-of-print

Thomas Guide 1992

Before GPS technology came into widespread use, real estate agents and delivery truck drivers relied on Thomas Guide map books for detailed street maps. The spiral-bound books were comprehensive and expensive, ranging from $15-$30 and up, depending on the region. But now, due to competition from GPS, Thomas Brothers has stopped printing most of these detailed city/county guides, making “the secondary market” (used bookstores and websites) the only place to get many of them.  And GPS doesn’t work everywhere, you know.
I originally bought this Sonoma County map book for 25¢ at the Santa Rosa Sunday flea market to use in making collages –  but I’ve learned to check values of books before merrily cutting them up, thankfully.
Late last fall I listed this 1992 “Sonoma County” map book for sale online at a competitive $9.99. Just six months later, it sold as the lowest-priced of the used Sonoma County Thomas Guides on Amazon.com, even though it’s more than 20 years old and only in “fair” condition. (Later editions combined Sonoma and Napa counties, or Sonoma and Marin counties.)
So keep an eye out for inexpensive Thomas Guides, even ancient ones in marginal condition, which can have good resale value on Half.com (e-Bay’s used book site), www.half.com, or on www.Amazon.com .

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2 thoughts on “Thomas Bros. map books now out-of-print

  1. My copy didn’t sell for much — $9.99 — but yes, it was stained and had loose pages. It’s all about supply and demand. If you have copies that you use, don’t toss them out thinking you can get updated editions.
    That said, while desperate drivers who need direction in the boonies have just realized the Thomas Guides aren’t available new any more, resellers don’t value the old editions enough yet to list them for sale, so the few available copies are pricey. Time will tell if the cost comes down.

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  2. Wow, KAren and I have our retirement portfolio on our bookshelves in the form of various Sonoma/Marin, Bay Area, Monterey Bay, San Louis Obispo, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento spiral-bound maps. I even have the LA map I used in the mid 70’s when I was director for the Head Start programs in the South Bay/Harbor districts of Los Angeles County. I used that book practically every day. Does it matter that a page is lose or that there are coffee stains on some pages?

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