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Book Collecting 101 at The Private Library

Anyone who has spent much time exploring Internet sites devoted to book collecting can be excused for coming away with the feeling that such collecting is too expensive and/or too complicated for the average person. The focus at too many such sites continues to be on great rarities, or on well-heeled collectors, or on events that the average working stiff can't possibly take time off from work to attend. Here at The Private Library, though, we contend that anyone can collect the printed book!

Published on 20 Feb. 2018

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By L.D. Mitchell


Anyone who has spent much time exploring Internet sites devoted to book collecting can be excused for coming away with the feeling that such collecting is too expensive and/or too complicated for the average person. The focus at too many such sites continues to be on great rarities, or on well-heeled collectors, or on events that the average working stiff can't possibly take time off from work to attend. Here at The Private Library, though, we contend that anyone can collect the printed book! We contend that book collecting need not require a lot of money (though you certainly can spend a lot of money if you wish). And we further contend that book collecting does not require a room full of custom-crafted mahogany bookshelves (though if that makes you happy, no one's stopping you).

Book collecting does require some sort of idea as to what it is that you want to focus on (a particular author or subject, for example). And book collecting does require some thought as to how your efforts might best be rewarded (should you, for example, collect what everyone else is collecting, or perhaps collect what everyone else is not collecting). Book collecting requires, in short, some sort of intellectual road map as to how one might best grow one's collection if, as is the case with most folks, you don't have infinite time and unlimited financial resources.

The Private Library has spent some 700+ posts attempting to sketch out just such a map. We have examined free and/or low-cost ways to begin and/or add to your book collection; we have investigated free and/or low-cost ways to store and care for your book collection; we have considered the focus that is needed to turn an accumulation of books into a book collection; we have looked at a number of authors, subjects and the like that other book collectors often do not collect, highlighting areas where a little bit of money might well net you a great many books; we have suggested how a specialist bookseller might prove to be your best friend; we have recounted the experiences of fellow book collectors, in the hope that their accomplishments and/or missteps might prove instructive as you try to put together your private library; we have gathered together a great many online resources to supplement, and expand upon, the topics that we have covered in our posts. We continue to sketch out this map with next Friday's post …


The announcement was posted in The Private Library. It is presented here by permission of the author.

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