Nowadays, someone may say something like, “Print books are a thing of the past, so people should take a step forward and start using electronic books instead.” However, according to the latest statistics, e-books can hardly compete with their traditional rivals. Paper books are still in the lead, as they offer plenty of advantages that digital versions will probably never be able to provide.
Reading books has become an integral part of everyday life. Some people read for pleasure, some use books as an escape from reality, and some read books to sate their hunger for knowledge. There is also a group of people calling themselves book collectors. At first glance, it is a pretty basic and common thing, but as you learn more about real collecting, your perspectives start changing. So, who is considered a book collector? And how to become one? Let’s get things straight!
Demystifying book collecting: who is who?
Many people falsely assume that they become book collectors when they start having two or more books. At this point, one needs to draw a line between buying and collecting. If you compulsively buy books one by one purely due to your own reasons, it is called a personal library. The curious paradox is that you can buy a thousand books without being a collector. The fine line between the two is very subtle, but it is still fundamental for starting collectors.
Collecting is a plan, a strategic approach to purchasing and storing books. Book collectors always have some goals that they strive to achieve. These can be works by one author, a particular genre, or even a specific color of book covers. Besides, just like collecting fine art, book collecting is connected with investment. Finally, being a collector means being a hunter. In other words, it is a lifestyle, a habit, not just a simple hobby. Now let’s look at the benefits of being a collector.
Benefits of being a book collector
It all depends on how you look at it and what your goals are. However, it is not hard to single out two boons that will work for almost every person.
- It is a noble thing. Storing books is like storing antiques and collectibles — you preserve the past. Even if you do not collect antique books, it is still a contribution to cultural preservation.
- It brings joy and money. Even though money is not the main purpose of collecting, books that you buy today might well bring decent revenue in the years to come. Apart from that, you will likely enjoy the process of collecting books you love.
Collecting books: how to start building a collection?
- Establish criteria, consider factors
The first step is defining your collecting goals by establishing criteria. It is a cornerstone of your collection, so you need to be specific about what you want to collect. One or two goals are more than enough for an emerging collector. Also, do not forget to consider various factors like the cover and paper type because they usually influence storage conditions.
- Set the budget
Compared to other forms of investment, the budget you set for books is fairly flexible. It directly depends on what books you buy and where you buy them. You can spend hundreds of dollars each week, or you can rather limit your expenses and buy one book every two or three months. Choose what suits your needs best.
- Train yourself
Before you start buying books, you need to train your eyes. First, you should know how to assess the book condition to understand whether this purchase is worth the money. Second, learn how to spot fakes and distinguish differences between originals and copies, especially if you are going to seek your fortune at second-hand bookshops or online platforms.
- Find the source
There are plenty of places where you can buy books. Truth be told, bookshops are the most foolproof option. Consider thrift stores and flea markets as well since you never know what you can find there. Online shops are also possible, but you have to measure all the risks beforehand. In case you are hunting for antique and collectible books, you might think of specialized auctions featuring such items.
- Learn how to store books
As your collection grows, you need to provide proper care for your books. First and foremost, avoid direct sunlight and high humidity level. On top of that, you need to get acquainted with restoration services because books can suffer from damage and thus may need repair.
Being a serious book collector is all about satisfaction and pleasure. Books are works of art, and investing in art is always fun. Do not be in a hurry and stay motivated until collecting gives you goosebumps. Good luck!