How to start book collecting - Academy the international antique and book and book auction advertising site the international antique and book and book auction advertising site the international antique and book and book auction advertising site Advanced Search >>>
Follow in Facebookon

Antique categories:
RSS Feed: Clock Clock (841)
RSS Feed: Folk art Folk art (425)
RSS Feed: Furniture Furniture (6352)
RSS Feed: Glass, crystal Glass, crystal (1092)
RSS Feed: Graphics, etching Graphics, etching (536)
RSS Feed: Jewel Jewel (344)
RSS Feed: Lamp, chandelier Lamp, chandelier (1032)
RSS Feed: Militaria, arms Militaria, arms (740)
RSS Feed: Musical instrument Musical instrument (701)
RSS Feed: Other antiques Other antiques (3733)
RSS Feed: Painting Painting (3344)
RSS Feed: Paper Paper (1270)
RSS Feed: Paper money, coin Paper money, coin (1660)
RSS Feed: Porcelain, ceramic Porcelain, ceramic (4265)
RSS Feed: Postcard Postcard (1437)
RSS Feed: Religious items Religious items (244)
RSS Feed: Silver, metallic object Silver, metallic object (859)
RSS Feed: Stamp Stamp (3204)
RSS Feed: Statue Statue (812)
RSS Feed: Technical antiques Technical antiques (1992)
RSS Feed: Textiles, carpets Textiles, carpets (1239)

Book categories:
RSS Feed: Antiquarian book Antiquarian book (1855)
RSS Feed: Art book Art book (760)
RSS Feed: Children's book Children's book (434)
RSS Feed: Dictionary Dictionary (168)
RSS Feed: Economy, business Economy, business (59)
RSS Feed: Gastronomy Gastronomy (195)
RSS Feed: Guide, geography Guide, geography (234)
RSS Feed: History History (466)
RSS Feed: Lifestyle, health Lifestyle, health (248)
RSS Feed: Literature, Novel Literature, Novel (1706)
RSS Feed: LP, CD, DVD LP, CD, DVD (1218)
RSS Feed: Newspaper Newspaper (1681)
RSS Feed: Religious book Religious book (576)
RSS Feed: Schoolbook Schoolbook (529)
RSS Feed: Scientific book Scientific book (458)
RSS Feed: Slide strip Slide strip (148)
RSS Feed: Sports Sports (169)
RSS Feed: Technical book Technical book (309)

Gallery: exhibitions
RSS Feed: Handicrafts exhibition Handicrafts exhibition
RSS Feed: Historical exhibition Historical exhibition
RSS Feed: Painting exhibition Painting exhibition
RSS Feed: Photography exhibition Photography exhibition
RSS Feed: Sculpture exhibition Sculpture exhibition
e-Antique_eu FAQ
Follow us!
Join the community and follow us on Twitter!! Join the community and follow us on Twitter!!
Join the community and follow us on Facebookon!! Join the community and follow us on Facebookon!!
Advertising: Academy
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Abstract Expressionism
Leonardo da Vinci(1894-1941)
Napoleon Bonaparte(1769-1821)
Pablo Picasso(1823-1880)
Vincent van Gogh (1895-1974)
Useful Information for stamps
Important Information for numismatic
Helpful material from postcards
List of ceramic and porcelain signs

How to start book collecting


Earlier this year we covered the joys and basic how-tos of starting a collection . It's truly an everyman's hobby. If you're a gentleman reader and you should be then there is perhaps no better collection to amass than a hearty library of manly tomes. With this post I'd like to teach you how to expand your library with a purposeful book collection and help it achieve a new standard of awesomeness.

But first, some background. The personal library has a long, rich history of manliness. It was a standard feature in homes from the 17 th through the 20 th centuries. For the upper class, the library was the perfect place for managing an estate and hanging out with other gentlemen (usually with a few drinks and cigars). And for the working man, a personal library of even just a few bookshelves was a great escape after a hard day's work, as well as a potential tool for moving on up the economic ranks.

Wealthy gentlemen of former generations would typically collect complete sets of classic writers (The Complete Works of Dickens for example), standout books in the advancement of civilization ( the Great Books ), and books related to their personal areas of interest or occupation. The same standard titles could be expected in any gentleman's library, which meant, with some notable exceptions, that the average collection was kind of boring. You could find variations on the same library in any wealthy estate in America or Britain.

The working man's library, however, was much more focused and interesting. Limited budgets meant that books were a luxury expense and could only be bought for specific aims or for a deep and abiding passion for a particular work. As a result, a working man's library was a fascinating look into their life, even if it was ostensibly much less impressive.

I'm way more interested to know what books were sitting on the two shelves in the hut of this Australian bushman versus the gigantic libraries of wealthy businessmen. Think about the journey these books must have taken to arrive at this shack deep in the Australian bush and how important they must have been to this man. (You wouldn't think this picture could be any cooler, but note that the opposite wall holds his rifles.)

All men should build a general library like that pictured above. We should have ready access to the important books of our lives. What books would you take with you to a shack in the Australian bush? Those are the books you should buy. You don't need any guidance here; just buy the books you love. Get them in the format you like best. Forget about re-selling them. Build the library to use it. Write in the books. Toss them in your rucksack or in the backseat of your car when you're on a road trip. Be reckless with their condition. And if you prefer ebooks, remember that buying physical copies of your favorite books increases your antifragility .

Book collecting , however, is another beast. You can go beyond the formation of a general library to assemble a purposeful, carefully built book collection united around a central theme. And here is where we separate the book collectors from the rest of the pack.

Collectors are hunters who chase their query through the dusty shelves of antiquarian bookshops. (Or, less poetically, across the blinking screens of their computers.) They build focused collections with particular goals in mind. Aesthetics, interests, profit, charity, work, pleasure, scholarly pursuits, pure awesomeness, and greed are all reasons that men collect books. For example, I built one small collection for its aesthetics on the bookshelf, another small collection to have all the works of a hard-to-find author, another collection purely out of interest in the material, and another just to make a buck on later.

Regardless of the motivation, however, any book collection worth its salt must be united by an easily identifiable central theme.

A.W. Pollard wrote of book collecting in his famous essay in the 11 th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1911):

In the modern private collection, the need for a central idea must be fully recognized. Neither the collector nor the curator can be content to keep a mere curiosity shop. It is the collector's business to illustrate his central idea by his choice of examples, by the care with which he describes them and the skill with which they are arranged.

Those words were true in 1911; they remain true a century later. A central idea for your book collection helps you stay focused, save time and money, and avoid unnecessary accumulation.

Types of Book Collections

But what should you collect? How can you stay focused? While there are many ways to build a collection, here are several of the tried-and-true routes:

1. The Author Collection: In this collection, you build an entire collection of books by a particular author. Typically, this means buying all the first editions of an author's work, but a more comprehensive view includes reprints, foreign translations, special editions, and magazine appearances. Building an author collection is an expensive undertaking if you want to go after prominent authors. However, you can build an inexpensive collection by focusing on an up-and-coming author, or a favorite author who has been overlooked by history. A variation on the author collection is the illustrator collection buying all the books illustrated by a particular artist.

2. The List Collection: In this collection you start with a simple, well-established list ( Pulitzer Prize winners , for example, or Man Booker Prize winners ) and then go out and buy all the books featured on that list. Once again, this collection would typically focus on the first editions of these works, but could be more expansive in its scope, including reprints, classic editions, etc. Other non-prize-winning lists include the Rivers of America books, the Baedeker guidebooks to Europe, or the American Guide Series .

3. The Topical Collection: The topical collection is limited only by your creativity. I've interviewed a young man, for example, who was busy collecting everything he could find about the 1972 Munich Olympics for the benefit of his dissertation. Now that's a cool and unexpected book collection to browse on the shelf. Similarly you could collect books about trout fishing in Montana, books about 20 th century golfing in Scotland, books praising the virtues of Cuban tobacco, or adventure novels set in Africa. The potential list of topics is endless. Topical book collections are often well used by their collectors.

4. The Aesthetic Collection: This collection views its chosen books as art objects. You might collect publisher's binding books for example, or books with dust jackets illustrated by a favorite artist ( such as Edward Gorey ), or 19 th century sheet music with color lithograph covers, or books bound in vellum. Building an aesthetic collection is similar to building a small art collection. You purchase the books because they look awesome.

And of course you don't have to limit yourself to just one type of collection; I have one of each of the above types. Regardless of the sort of collection you build, consider with each purchase how the specific selection echoes and enhances the central theme expressed in your library. This will help you stay focused and not lose yourself in the pursuit. (Book collecting, as with any collection, bears some similarities both positive and negative to hunting and gambling.)

Condition Matters

A good rule of thumb is to purchase the nicest copy you can afford. What does this mean? Get the book in the best condition relative to your budget. When you are browsing books online or in a bookseller's catalogue, you will notice that booksellers classify their books according to a roughly-standard rubric of grades that begins at Fine and descends to Poor:

  • Fine means the copy is essentially mint, probably unread, showing no signs of wear or use, especially considering its relative age.
  • Near Fine means it's close to fine, but with a few very minor defects, which the bookseller will elaborate on in the book's description.
  • Very Good means the book has a defect or two of some note, which again will be elaborated upon in the description.
  • Good usually has a handful of defects.
  • Fair contains a significant number of defects.
  • Poor is a reading copy only, not well-suited for a purposeful book collection (unless the book is extremely rare).

Of course each bookseller's definition of what exactly differentiates a Fine book from a Near Fine book, and so on, is subjective, but these grades work well as general guidelines.

A word about dust jackets: get them if you can. Try to find books with their original dust jackets and again, try to get them in the best condition you can afford (sometimes of course this isn't feasible). Dust jackets are rated on the same scale from Fine to Poor, and they make a huge difference in the value of the book. Example: a first edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald will set you back a few grand. But a first edition with its original dust jacket? Well over $100k. Seriously. So get those dust jackets. And protect them with Mylar covers, available at paper and office suppliers like Demco and Brodart. ( Read more about the first edition of The Great Gatsby and why it's so valuable. )

Where to Get Collectible Books

Now, how do you track down your books? Browsing the bookshelves of a used bookshop is cool and opens the doors to serendipity, but you'll also want to harness the ample power of the Internet to find specific books for your collections. and are two excellent aggregate sites for tracking down rare and out-of-print material, which you can then purchase from independent booksellers around the world. eBay is also a treasure in this regard.

If you'd like some help getting started, seek the advice of a rare book dealer. They are easily found online through the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America , many of whom would welcome the opportunity to help a new collector start navigating these murky waters.

How to Save Money While Book Collecting

If you don't want to break the bank on your book collection, heed these tips:

Don't be a hoarder. Sell the books no longer relevant to your collection. As you find nicer copies of books in your collection, sell the lesser versions. eBay is a great outlet for this.

Be savvy on eBay. Learn how to save searches. Learn how to search completed listings to see how much similar titles have sold for in the past. Get a sense of a book's value, and then bid accordingly the next time the title comes up for auction. Keep an eye open for deals.

Know your material. Learn all you can about your chosen genre/topic/author/illustrator. You'll be able to spot interesting material and bargains that will fit into your overall theme.

Cultivate a relationship with a rare book dealer. He or she will offer you interesting material related to your collection before advertising it publicly (where it might be offered at a higher price).

Buy direct from a bookseller. Sites like or are awesome for collectors, but they take a commission off of each sale from booksellers. As a result, some booksellers offer their books cheaper if you buy direct from them or from their own website. Especially with more expensive books, investigate this option before purchasing.

Regardless if you become a dedicated book collector or just aim to assemble the important books of your life, remember this quote about self-sufficiency from Cicero, Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing. So let's all want for nothing.


Back to all Academy topics >>

RSS feliratkozás: Hírek NEWS RSS: Auction news AUCTION NEWSRSS: Cultural news CULTURAL NEWSRSS: Historical news HISTORICAL NEWS RSS: Videos VIDEOS RSS: Forum FORUM |  RSS: Calendar CALENDAR
Recent news :
More News >>
Recent antique art book topics:
How much is my antique silver and metal objects worth?
How much is my antique jewel worth?
What is this antique object?
Trying to identify this silver hallmark
Trying to identify this porcelain mark
How much is my antique furniture worth?
How Much Is My Antique Porcelain Worth?
How Much Is My Contemporary or Antique Painting Worth?
How Much Is My Antiquarian Book Worth?
How Much Is My Antique Clock Worth? the international antique and book and book auction advertising site - the Internatinal antique and books auctions site
Follow us social media Follow us Facebook Follow us Twitter Follow us Youtube Follow us: TikTok Follow us: Pinterest

About Us
How to sell?
How to buy?
Free advertising!

Write us!
Forgotten Password
Newsletter Subcribe

Artist database
Art and antique glossary Academy

Cultural news
Historical news

© 2023 | Newsletter | Contact | Terms and Conditions | Advertise | Copyright | Privacy Policy