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WORDS OF WISDOM FOR
NOVICE BOOK COLLECTORS

by Bob Brooke

Old BooksIt has been centuries since anyone could afford to be a general collector of books. Money aside, there are simply too many volumes published–52,000 last year alone--in any single year for a collector to acquire a copy of everything issued. To maintain control over a book collection, a novice collector must choose an area of special interest when beginning a collection.

While there are no hard and fast rules for collecting, there are ways to avoid the pitfalls beginners encounter. There are several excellent Web sites catering to book collectors, including that of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (http://abaa.org/) and Bibliofind.com, (http://www.bibliofind.com/), the Internet's largest inventory of old, used and rare books.

Pick an area of interest, such as children 's books, or juveniles, illustrated books, western Americana, first editions, limited editions, or books with inscribed bindings. Illustrated books contain engravings, etchings, photos, or other mechanical reproductions, either uncolored or colored; sometimes they are hand-colored. Western Americana includes everything published west of the Mississippi River, plus books on voyages, explorations, and western politics.

First editions for beginners relate to modern fiction, while limited editions are books issued simply to line a publisher's pockets. The most personal of items–inscribed books–are highly regarded by book collectors and autograph collectors. And, lastly, fine bindings are books which are a pleasure to own and a joy to hold and examine because some craftsman took pride in its manufacture.

Finally, as with any antique, a book collector should buy the best copy her or she can afford.

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