My personally biased (and fairly limited) bibliography:
Denny, Walter
Sotheby's Guide to Oriental Carpets
Fireside Books, New York, 1994

Prof. Denny is a specialist in Islamic art, and the book is fun and easy to read, as well as being accurate and informative.

Eiland, Emmett
Oriental Rugs Today
Berkeley Hills Books, Berkeley, 2000 

An optimistic (and, it is to be hoped, accurate) look at current production. 

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Eiland, Murray L., and Murray Eiland III
Oriental Rugs: A Complete Guide
Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1998

This updated and revised classic will tell you much more than you're capable of remembering about the subject.  Author is well-respected in the area of rug knowledge and  scholarship.

Thompson, Jon
Oriental Rugs from the Tents, Cottages, and Workshops of Asia
E.P. Dutton, New York, 1988

Dr. Thompson is legendary in the field of rug scholarship. He's the only person I know who can pull a yarn out of a rare antique rug at an exhibition without the owners going ballistic.

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For the beginner, I strongly recommend Jon Thompson's book, listed above, as an introduction to the subject. Clear, well-written, with great photographs, it'll provide a good framework for understanding the world of oriental rugs. Books by Ian Bennett and James Opie are also very good. If your interest is primarily in decorative rugs, Janice Summers' Oriental Rugs (New York: Crown Publishers, 1994) may be helpful.
To educate your eye and hand, there's no substitute for getting your hands on as many rugs as possible.  Feel  them, smell them, flip them over with your foot. Develop a relationship with a rug dealer and let him/her know what interests you. Don't be afraid to ask questions; rug scholarship is both broad and detailed, and no one knows everything about all types of rugs.
Hali (the Turkish word for "rug") is the premier publication for the rug world. It's expensive, but worth it if you're serious about oriental rugs. 


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