Before you start to seriously go out and buy books, you need to learn some terminology and become familiar with book publishing and production process. For example, while most people think of book collecting only in terms of the final product as it appeared in the bookstore, there are other elements of a a course in miracles that are more valuable, more elusive, and more heavily collected. Plus, the more you know about the history of books and how books are constructed, the more finely tuned your critical senses will be, and the more you’ll appreciate finding a truly good book. This article is an attempt to educate and provide you with resources to get you started in book collecting.
For the collector, there are three primary things to consider when buying a book: EDITION, CONDITION and SCARCITY in this condition and edition. Understanding these areas is the different between success and failure, between being able to build a collection of treasures and an assortment of reading copies, between being able to collect and sell for money, or just going out and buying a lot of worthless books.
The used and collectible book market divides into three neat categories:reading copy, antiquarian, and modern first edition. Are books you can take to the beach or into a bathtub. They’re the largest part of the book market, and they’re everywhere. If you buy a book with anything in mind other than collecting, you’re buying a reading copy.
Antiquarian book lovers seek out classic old volumes—editions of Scott, Wordsworth, the Bay Psalm Book, examples of fine printing and binding from centuries past. Modern first edition collectors tend to limit themselves to this century, to the writers who have defined the times we live in, such as Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Faulkner.
This is going to be your opening stock, so take a minute to appraise what you own. Do you have a lot of paperbacks with cracked spines and tattered covers? Or do you have a nice selection of good hardbacks neatly care for, books you brought as soon as they came out? The fact that you own books at all shows that you’re a lover of books, which is the first step to becoming a serious collector.