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Book collecting

Book collecting is what it sounds like, the collecting of books. While many book lovers (bibliophiles) accumulate volumes for a personal library, the serious book collector is interested in the physical books themselves, not just their content. For instance, many collectors seek out first editions of books, or acquire copies of every work written by a particular author or on a particular subject.

Basic collecting is quite easy; there are billions of books in the world, and thousands of bookstores, both physical and virtual (Internet). There is an active market in all types of works, going all the way back to illuminated manuscripts. While manuscript books are all expensive, even incunabula (books printed in the 15th century) can be found for several hundred US dollars, and century-old books often cost under ten dollars.

Some inexpensive collectible books

Advanced collectors may pursue the great rarities; the Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare's First Folio are famous, and pricey. Unusual items include the "book" of squares of native textiles brought back from the South Seas by Captain Cook. More practical for the collector of average means is to collect all the first editions of a favorite modern author.

Table of contents
1 Book condition
2 Collection specialties
3 References
4 External links

Book condition

Condition of books is important to collectors. While books are basically durable objects, years or centuries of handling and moving can take their toll on the cover and binding, and many old books have been rebound. The dust jackets of recent books are relatively delicate, and collectors pay close attention to their condition. The paper of the pages themselves can be a problem; excessive acid left over from the papermaking process can literally crumble the pages into dust, and books of some eras absolutely must have the acid neutralized if they are to survive for any length of time.

Other enemies to guard against include fire, water, very dry air, very humid air, sunlight, and insects. The collector can do some maintenance and repair personally, but bookbinders are recommended for major restoration or to work on rare volumes.

Collection specialties

Title page of
Colman's Terence, 1765

Collection interests may include books relating to:

Related collecting interests include autograph collecting and ephemera.


External links