Book Collecting - Part One - A Literary Adventure
John Hutchinson, VJ Books
Updated November 11, 2016
So, you want to be a book collector - Welcome to the world of book collecting!
As you begin your adventure into book collecting you will face many questions concerning the nuances of the hobby. If you collect anything already - coins, stamps, art, wine, or even plates or spoons - you probably understand quite a bit already.
This is the first a multi-part series offered as an introduction to the hobby in hopes that it will inform you of some of the nuances, terms and potential pitfalls you may encounter building your collection. Following segments include information on books you want to read vs. books you want to collect, parts of the book, identifying First Editions, signed or author autographed books, how to begin your search and how to value your collection.
Hobbies are good for your well-being.
Becoming active in something you take delight or pleasure in relieves stress - it refocuses your mind on something enjoyable. Our lives are so complex and stress-filled that finding a way to ease the pressure will improve your health. Book collecting gives a one-two punch to stress. First, the collecting part - building a library of your favorite author’s work, and second, the sheer pleasure of curling up with a good book - getting lost in the story - will ease tension. When you overload your brain with things you enjoy, it simply just doesn’t have room for the stressful stuff.
Hobbies open your mind to exciting new possibilities.
If you focus only on family and career, your life can become two dimensional. A hobby keeps your horizons from becoming too constrained. Reading expands your horizons – you can travel the world, or reach for the stars. There are no limits.
Book collecting is a hobby that keeps your life from spiraling out of control when the going gets tough. Reading transports you away from the everyday to places far from reality, and literally can put life on hold.
Book collecting encourages you to interact with other people in ways that don’t cause anxiety. The internet provides endless ways to connect with people that enjoy doing the same things that you do. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, discuss your hobby and get more involved with bigger groups. It is a great way to make friends - many of my best friends are people I have met through my hobbies. Book dealing was once, as Graham Greene said, “A treasure hunt,” but the internet has made it all about pots of gold.
Signed Books and First Printings.
The two high points of the book-collecting adventure are signed books and first printings. Collectors like scarcity, so first printings are sought because their print runs are usually low, and a finite number of them exist. The growing attraction of signed books is somewhat different. A signed copy is seen as an extension of the author, because he or she actually handled and wrote in that particular copy of the book. Signed books appeal to both book collectors and autograph enthusiasts.
Generally, most people collect books because they enjoy them, and find excitement and challenge in the hunt for certain authors or titles. They find personal enjoyment in the hobby or may collect books as an investment, looking for monetary gain. For most collectors, books represent a stable, long-term investment. It can be a mystifying pursuit - financially rewarding if you have the necessary expertise, diligence, and patience.
A passionate collector who follows a particular author or genre can evolve into an expert, a modern authority, who can create their own market for their books. So, collect what you love, collect what you know, and become the expert in your own field.
In the final analysis, you want to be a book collector . . . and why shouldn’t you?
Book collecting is one of the greatest hobbies around. It awards you with beautiful, interesting objects of art, combined with the excitement of the hunt, and, who knows, maybe even the possibility of making some money! What can go wrong? In the worst case you wind up with a lot of books, plenty to read. There’s really no way to lose!
In this series of articles we will discuss how to structure your book collection for maximum enjoyment and value by determining what to add to your collection and what to take away.
Coming up next . . .
“The books you want to read and the books you want to keep.”
Good reading -
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