The Infinite Echo

B. Thomas Cooper is a freelance journalist, photographer, blogger and historian. Topics include Political Commentary, Satire and History

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Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Collecting

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

There is an intrinsic quality to holding an old book in your hands. An unmistakable quality, of life, of knowledge and perhaps of understanding. I'm a book collector, and I seek satisfaction accordingly, one bound volume at a time.

I suppose I could forgo the unmitigated pedantic verbosity, but it is with an obsessive mind with which I seek these aged tomes. The madness is not mine alone, but is in fact, shared by many. So many are afflicted by this madness in fact, that for centuries, books have been collected, by the young and the aged, the intellectual, the clever, and the crooked. In simpler words, collecting books can be for anyone, even the insipid.

So where can one locate such literary jewels? I like to start by reminding everyone that your local library is a wonderful place to find a good book, providing you are willing to return it in a reasonable manner. Don't overlook your local library.

B. Thomas Cooper

As for collecting antique books for the keeping, one can start nearly anywhere used books are sold. Yard sales, flea markets, and the like are usually productive sources. Most antique dealers carry at least a small supply of old books. In such cases, the books are generally in very good, if not excellent condition. Ditto for used book stores, but that seems somewhat obvious.

Personally, I favor the thrift stores, many in my area which have half price day every other Saturday. Over a period of six years, I have built up a rather impressive collection of antique and classic books in this manner. I have amassed everything imaginable, from Bronte to the Official Report of the Warren Commission (the official report on the assassination of US president John F. Kennedy.)

Of course, these days there is probably no greater source for information than the internet. Antique books are available in countless locations throughout the net, including eBay, Amazon and others. I have purchased many used and antique books over the internet, and have never been displeased by the product I received, however, I would recommend researching your purchase thoroughly before laying down the big bucks. Needless to say, but I will anyhow, some things are not always as advertised. Just use a little common sense and by all means, enjoy the process. Collecting old books may sound kind of geekish, and you know, perhaps it is. Still, it is a rewarding hobby that can bring more hours of entertainment and satisfaction than you'll ever find time for.

Book Glasses 001

There are numerous buyers guides available to help you in your search. Some are pricey, but all are informative. Some buyers rely a great deal on these little gems. Others find pleasure in simply seeking out the gems on their own terms.

Of course, even book collecting is not without peril. I am reminded of an out of the way place just off the interstate in western Arizona. In most respects, I suppose it's much like any other used book store, book cases crawl upward toward the rafters, loaded down with ceaseless piles of books. Magazine racks stretch and yawn, with endless copies of Arizona Highways, and old copies of Life Magazine. But it isn't the building or the books that catches ones attention upon entering the establishment. It's the proprietor, and ancient astronaut of sorts. Perhaps a product of the sixties, or perhaps simply not interested in time, (or clothing) it seems, a fact that becomes apparent only after one has already entered the store, your eyes forever scarred by the sight of the weathered old timer, wearing nothing more than a very, very tiny strap of leather. It's a price I am personally unwilling to pay in my quest to find old books. You have been duly warned.

So with that off my chest, (so to speak) happy hunting, and hopefully you'll find time to read some of those great works you find. Collecting books is a hobby that will bring you a lifetime of knowledge and enjoyment. Now get out there and start looking.

Coming Soon!

More books reviews, including Candide- Voltaire, The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway, Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row- John Steinbeck.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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