Collecting books is an endeavour that can either be a hobby or a more serious vocation. Many people who love to read and collect books, also called bibliophiles, collect books as a hobby; they collect for the sake of collecting and to build up their own private library.
A few others collect them on a serious, more avid level. These people amass a good number of books like it’s a profession. Many of them are more interested in collecting rather than reading, in the number rather than the content.
Book collectors sometimes collect books of a particular genre or topic; for example, some people collect mysteries and science fictions, some collect pocketbooks. Others collect the books written by specific authors like Jane Austen or William Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway. There is also a small few that collect rare and first edition books.
Because books are very accessible, book collection is simple and easy.
There are millions and millions of books in existence. The Library of Congress, which is the biggest library in the world, in Washington D.C. alone has about 22 million books. According to Google’s research and study, there are about 130 million books in the world. Moreover, there are thousands of bookstores and libraries worldwide.
Today, there are even virtual copies of books. These virtual copies like eBooks and PDF files are also very accessible. One just needs to go on the Internet.
There are all kinds of materials that are in demand in the collectors’ market today. An example is old book manuscripts, especially of classics and bestsellers. These manuscripts are substantially expensive and hard to find. Another example of in demand materials are those 15th century books. These books printed before the year 1501 are called incunabula and the price of such books could go up to several hundred dollars. The Library of Congress has 5,600 incunabula. Century-old books, however, are cheap and would only cost about $10 or less.
There are a number of books that avid collectors have or would want to have in their collection. Such books are very rare and very expensive. Examples of these books are William Shakespeare’s First Folio and The Guttenberg Bible.
Collectors also have unusual materials in their collection. An example of such materials is the “book” of squares of native textiles. Captain James Cook brought this so-called “book” when he came back from his expedition in the South Seas.
The more practical and average collectors prefer to collect the first editions instead.