The Unbearable Banishment: Book Collecting: A Primer for nursemyra

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Book Collecting: A Primer for nursemyra

If you check the comments of my previous post, you’ll see that the always lovely nursemyra had a few good questions regarding book collecting. Here’s a short answer for you, my dear.

Like Dante’s hell, there are many levels to collecting a book. First there’s the manuscript, which neither you nor I will ever see. Then there are the galley proofs. Although pretty rare, I’ve seen a few. Then there are Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) and proofs, which are fairly common if you know where to look. Then, the first edition. Did I leave anything out, mjp?

If any of these are signed, all the better. To some collectors, the earlier a book's iteration, the more desirable. Others are only interested in first editions. There are SO MANY nuances. Does an author tour and sign? If not, signed copies will be sold at a premium. The smaller the first edition print run, the better. Those Harry Potter and Stephen King firsts? Worthless because there are so many of them (not counting the early titles). Do you “follow the flag?” (This means to only collect the first edition in the author’s home country, i.e., only the British firsts of Graham Greene, only the Australian firsts of Peter Carey.) I could go on and on ad nauseum. Feel free to email me.

If you buy a first edition that’s signed, you cannot read it. Reading it, even once, degrades its condition and condition is paramount. Who in their right mind buys a book that cannot be read? It’s nuts. My advice is to not get caught up in collecting books. Or shooting craps. Both are quicksand.


OpenID anniegirl1138 said...

Collecting anything is about time, passion and money.

September 9, 2008 at 10:14 PM  
OpenID tomeoftheunknownblogger said...

Graham Greene's a British author? You mean he's just been masquerading as an aboriginal Cree actor from Canada?

September 9, 2008 at 11:27 PM  
OpenID nursemyra said...

hey UB, thanks for the primer. where do I sign up for your advanced course?

September 10, 2008 at 4:52 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

annie: Don't forget that collecting may have a beginning, but there is no end to it.

tome: Not THAT Graham Greene! The funny thing is that when I conduct a search on eBay for Graham Greene first editions, I end up getting a lot of used DVDs of Dances With Wolves.

nurse: Advanced study is a slippery slope! Beware the addiction! It’s too late for me but you can still save yourself.

September 10, 2008 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger sid said...

I agree with you. Why would you want a book you can't read. Although if I already have a cheap copy of the book.

September 15, 2008 at 1:57 AM  

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