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bookish Beginner's Guide to Book Collecting

collectingquote2.jpgThink of book collecting and you’re likely to think of grey-haired academic types or filthily rich aristocratic families and their antiquated calf-bound first editions with gilded edges. And it’s true, book collecting can be a little bit like that. But it is also much more accessible than you might think, and bookish is here to help you get to grips with what to look for in a first edition or a rare book, how to spot good buys, and to give you general advice on collecting and looking after books.

Condition Condition Condition

In the world of book collecting, condition is everything. That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever buy a damaged or worn book. If you like it, get it. You should collect what you want to collect, not just what “the market” says you should. That said, if you want to purchase a book as an investment, one that you hope may go up in value, or at least not lose value, then condition is important and is one of the most important things to look for. More than anything, the condition of the cover is critical.

Different booksellers use different grades for condition, although they are follow roughly the same lines. You can find more info about the grading of the bookish Lovebooks we sell here.

The most valuable books are those in the best condition and those which get closest to the original text. For this reason, first editions are traditionally the most sought after. The first editions that gain in value are those that are most scarce and most wanted. If no demand develops for a particular title, the fact that it is a first edition doesn’t really matter; it will ever become particularly valuable. The number of copies released in a first print run is an important point to think about. First editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone are hugely valuable not just because it is the first book in the hugely popular Harry Potter series, but because very few editions were ever actually produced in that first print run. They will always be relatively scarce, and therefore valuable. 

collectingquote1.jpgLovebooks Don’t Have To Be Expensive

The reason we call the books we sell Lovebooks is because they are books that, for whatever reason, we just love. Some of them might be investment pieces, rare first editions or really scarce copies. But others are just beautiful, or unusual, or bring about nostalgic memories of our childhoods, and that makes them loveable. So not all Lovebooks are expensive.

Which means you don’t have to be a de Rothschild to buy a Lovebook as a gift, or start a mini collection for your bookshelf.

No Furniture So Charming

Lovebooks look beautiful on the shelf. So as well as being fantastic reads, they last forever as objects. They are books to furnish a room by. Objets d’art that spark nostalgic memories. Treasures to pass on to future generations.

We love our Kindles, but they don’t do that.

Caring For Lovebooks

Lovebooks need love. Or at least they need not to be neglected. You don’t have to sit round for hours polishing them or anything like that, but you do need to be careful not to put them in harm’s way. Just like Gizmo, Lovebooks hate sunlight. So they’re best stored away from direct light in a place where they can be stacked like they are when they are kept on bookshelves. If you’re not keeping your Lovebook(s) on bookshelves and instead you’re keeping them in a box or something similar, it’s best to stack them as though they are on a bookshelf, spine up vertically and supported on either side. If you pile them on top of one another you risk warping the covers. Large, heavy books are however best stored flat. And make sure the room where you’re keeping your books is not too hot or too humid. That can damage your books.

If one of your books needs repairing, don’t try to do it yourself Blue Peter style. It’s not worth the risk. Get in touch with a professional bookbinder. They have lots of tools and tricks beyond the use of sticky back plastic.

All pretty obvious stuff really.

The Super Geeky Bit for Extra Keen Beans

If you’re interested to find out more about book collecting, or just want to get hold of a reference book to inform your future book purchases, we recommend you get your hands on a copy of ABC for Book Collectors – by John Carter. It's a great book as an intro (we're not on commission by the way; we just really like this book).

From time to time we run workshops and events to help you learn more about Lovebooks and book collecting. Sign up to our bookish newsletter here to stay informed about what’s coming up...

Further Help

We don’t have all the answers, and part of the fun of book collecting is jumping in and having a go yourself, but if you get stuck or want some friendly advice, or just a pointer in the right direction, then feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll try to help.

You can email us at lovebooks@bookishengland.co.uk, or call us on +44 (0)1273 25 2011. We’re really friendly and happy to chat about anything and everything bookish. Nothing like the intimidating dusty old booksellers of old.