What Makes a Book a Unicorn?

Example unicorn books

Unicorns are books that are very rare. For a book to be designated as a "unicorn" on Reshelving Alexandria, it must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Least expensive copy available online is $50 or higher

  • Less than three copies available online

  • Publisher did a single run printing, with no plans to reprint

Things that do not exempt a book from a unicorn designation:

  • A digital copy has been made available on Kindle, Internet Archive or elsewhere

  • A paperback or hardback reprint has become available


The original editions of books published before approximately 1915 are vintage and often rare, but that alone does not warrant a "unicorn" designation.


Unicorn designations are made primarily at the time the book was added to Reshelving Alexandria. We do our best to keep apprised of which books are highly sought after and have become rare, and will update the status of a book to "unicorn" to the best of our ability.

"Unicorn" icon by Pieter J. Smits from the Noun Project.