National Book Auctions was founded in the 1990s as an online platform for the trade of rare, antique and collectible books. Since the purchase of a retail space in Ithaca, New York, in 2004, the company has also engaged in public gallery auctions, and National Book Auctions continues to balance its online presence with auctions that are open to the public, incorporating online absentee bidding (both advance and real-time) and phone bidding during each auction.
Consignment plays a major role in the business of National Book Auctions, and over the years their specialists have noted that rare and highly collectible books often go undersold in general sales. As a specialist auction house dealing in books, documents and other ephemera, they therefore offer a high level of expertise and specialist knowledge to ensure that rare items are accurately described, well marketed, and sold for a good price. Since the company started, National Book Auctions and its partner companies have sold hundreds of thousands of volumes through live auction and online markets.