What bibliophile doesn’t love owning their own personal libraries in their living room, den, office, and their bedrooms, in their car, and on top of their fridge? Years ago, I had two bookcases filled with philosophy books I had either read or planned to read. That’s when I realized it was time to get rid of the majority of those space hogging dime a dozen paperbacks.
The truth is that most people start to collect books for almost no reason. They aren’t really collecting them either; they’re choosing to own a lot of books and they don’t know why. Maybe they read them, bought them for their education, or inherited a few. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but this is the slippery slope that leads to a cluttered house and even, down the road, to becoming a pack rat…or worse. Just kidding, if you’ve seen the melodramatic TV show “Hoarders,” you know it is treatable condition and it is not the same as collecting.
Book collecting is about appreciating and preserving books and not about dusting bookshelves or stepping over piles of them. If you own thousands of books and plan to open a book store with your pre-prepared inventory, these five practical reasons can help you determine which books to keep for yourself and which should go to your shop.
Even if you aren’t sure that’s what you want to do, using these to assess and weed your home collection can transform a stack of garage sale nothings into a near museum quality exhibit. Store the remainder of your books in boxes for a few months and you’re certain to discover you don’t miss them and probably don’t even remember them.
Reason #1: Rare
Books that are considered collectible due to their rarity are excellent to hold to onto. First editions/printings, signed copies, and books printed before 1850, have value to other collectors because they may be rare and in demand, which means they are valuable. It’s not just a book; it’s a piece of history.
While there are a few excellent websites to tell you how much a book is “worth,” I, personally, evaluate a newer book by an author’s merit or potential, because the value of books change. Imagine all the 200 librarians who stamped and cataloged J.K. Rowling’s first printing of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone? They just didn’t know and they are probably, very sorry. If you have a first printing of an author’s first book and you believe they have potential, keep it. No one knows how long it will take a writer’s career to take off or whether they’ll ever become popular at all, but those typo ridden, shabbily printed first books are what you want.
Ninety-five percent of published authors support themselves with means outside of their writing. A new author will appreciate it if you buy the first printing of their first book to add to your collection, in fact, it will stun a few of those new authors senseless.