The Essentials of Book Collecting

An Essay in Parts

by Robert F. Lucas

Part   1 - Introduction
Part   2 - Importance of priority relative to book collecting
Part   3 - Jargon - Reading a catalog description
Part   4 - Jargon - Condition and its importance
Part   5 - Bibliographies and other useful references
Part   6 - Rarity & scarcity and supply & demand
Part   7 - Ephemera - what is it and is it part of book collecting
Part   8 - Understanding book values & pricing
Part   9 - Some physical aspects of the book - bindings & paper
Part 10 - Book illustrations - variety of & illustrators
Part 11 - Investing in Antiquarian Books

Part 11 - Investing in Antiquarian Books

In general, it is best to collect books because you enjoy books, and you like the excitement and challenge of the hunt/search for specific titles, or you are after the information contained within the books for research or personal enjoyment. To collect books for purpose of investment, hoping for monetary gain, is not advisable.

If you are determined to collect books for investment purposes, you should be aware that this type of investment is very much long term. Under most situations you should plan on keeping your collection for a minimum of ten years before attempting to liquidate the collection to convert to cash.

Rare and scarce books have increased in value at a reasonably high rate over the years, but there are cases of deflation of book values and even what amounts to "crashes" in value for certain books. Often when a previously "overlooked" sector becomes very collectible, the prices inflate rapidly for a few years and if the demand does not keep up with the supply, the prices fall almost as fast as they rose. Prices for photography-related books went through a tremendous surge in value about a dozen to fifteen years ago and when interest waned, the values receded - but in this case of photography books the demand and value seem to have steadily recovered during the last decade -value recovery does not always occur.

There are authors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were very popular and their first editions were in great demand,but now some of those same authors are not exactly household names and their book values have not keep pace with inflation - and perhaps, will never recover. There is no guarantee that you will be able to retire on the capital gains from your book collection - collect books because you enjoy the hobby!


Part   1 - Introduction
Part   2 - Importance of priority relative to book collecting
Part   3 - Jargon - Reading a catalog description
Part   4 - Jargon - Condition and its importance
Part   5 - Bibliographies and other useful references
Part   6 - Rarity & scarcity and supply & demand
Part   7 - Ephemera - what is it and is it part of book collecting
Part   8 - Understanding book values & pricing
Part   9 - Some physical aspects of the book - bindings & paper
Part 10 - Book illustrations - variety of & illustrators
Part 11 - Investing in Antiquarian Books

Books and Book Collecting