Kerry Hammond recently attended a four part series of classes at her local used book store, The Printed Page Bookshop. Each class taught a different topic about rare books, preservation, and collecting. Here are her notes from Class Four: Building a Collection. We've been running her notes on the other classes each Wednesday this month.
Now that the class had learned how to identify a first edition, protect a collection of old books, and use a bibliography to research the value of a book, it was time to discuss how to build a collection of our own.
One of the first things to remember in collecting is to buy and collect what you love. After all, if you don’t love it, it won’t feel like much fun. Inspect the books you plan to buy very carefully, looking for marks, mildew, etc. Be an informed consumer. Know what a book is worth in the condition you have in front of you.
The most fun part is that if you’re a better reader, you will be a better collector. The more you know about an author, the more you’ll know about the books in print and this will help you determine which to add to your collection. Cultivate relationships with dealers, especially ones who sell in the area you intend to collect.
When buying online, be careful. Buying from someone who has been around for a long time, or someone who is recommended by a trusted friend is best. Read the seller’s descriptions of a book to determine if they sound knowledgeable. If they use the correct terms to describe the book (and use them properly) that’s a good sign as well.
If you’re adventurous, you can even try live auctions. Many have pre-sale exhibitions where prospective buyers can examine the books that are going to be auctioned. The most important thing, though, is to have fun. Collection should be an enjoyable hobby or business. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?