Book Collecting for Beginners

19 May 2018

|Bluestocking Books UK,

“Anyone who reads collects. Books silt up your living space.”


Last week I went along to a (free) panel discussion on collecting books organised by The Book Collector and hosted by IES University of London. The panel included rare books dealer Neil Pearson quoted in this article, specialist in books by women AN Devers and Bonham’s auction house books expert, Matthew Haley. Ten books or a thousand, here's their advice:


Collect what you love.

Collect books in the best condition you can afford

First edition, first printing books are generally the ones with greatest value

For modern first edition books, much of the value is in the dust-jacket

Books signed by the author will also have greater value


The research time you put into your collection will pay off.

“Books contextualise each other.”As you build a collection of books from a certain place, era or topic, you make links between them and keep improving your collection. Following the story told by inscriptions in your books becomes very revealing.



There is a trail from individual collectors to rare book dealers and auction houses, thence to national library and museum collections held for the public. This is one reason AN Devers focuses on books by women, in order to increase their representation at the institutional level.



One more good reason to visit bookshops with Bluestocking Books - 

Buying books from reputable knowledgable booksellers is the best way to begin collecting.


(photo from ABA Rare Books twitter also includes facilitator writer Lucy Scholes)

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