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 book 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.

Parts of a Book

*Cover- To put something over or upon, as to protect, conceal or enclose. Dustcover.

*Spine-The back part of the book and it faces outward when you shelf the book right.

*Title Page- The page at the beginning of the book, usually containing the title of the book and the names of the author and publisher.

*Copyright Page-Where the copyright date is found.

*Dedication Page-Its the place where the author dedicates the book to someone.

*Table of Contents-A list of the books contents, arranged by chapter, section, subsection, Etc…

*Forward- An introduction by person other than the author, and it is usually a famous person..

*Text (or Body)-The actual words of the book

*Glossary-A list of hard words with their meanings often printed in the back of the book.

*Bibliography- A list of books, articles, etc. Used or referred by the author at the end of the book.

*Index-A list of subjects and names in alphabetical order at the end of the book.

*ISBN-International Standard Book Numbers–is a ten digit number that uniquely identifies books and look-like products published internationally.

Getting Started

The used and collectible book market divides into three neat categories:reading copy, antiquarian, and modern first edition.

*Reading Copies

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

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 Firsts

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.

Taking Stock

The first step to being a good book scout is to take a look at your own bookshelves at home.

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.

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First Edition or Printing

So, obviously, you’ve got to learn how to identify first editions to avoid making costly mistakes. After all, if you think it’s a first and you turn out to be wrong after paying a premium. The problem is, nearly every publisher has its own method of identified first editions. You can memorize the policies of every single publisher in the history of the book trade, and even then you’ll make mistakes, because all of the rules have exceptions. On my shelves, and on on the shelves of every collector I know, there are at least a few books that looked like a first of first, but turn out later to be plain old books instead.

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