Book Collecting for Beginners: Practical Tips to Get You Started

Learn the basics of book collecting, from finding books to buying them and taking care of them.

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

Book Collecting for Beginners: Tips to Get You Started

As a reader, you probably have more than just a few books around your house.  But do you love the idea of having a library of your own, with volumes upon volumes of beautiful hardcovers and paperbacks?  If so, then book collecting may be a hobby for you!  Book collecting can be a lot of fun, and it can also be a great way to show off your personality.  But where do you start?  This guide will give you tips on how to get started in book collecting, from finding books to buying them to taking care of them.  So get a cup of your favorite beverage, and let’s get started!

About Book Collecting

What is book collecting called?

Book collecting is a form of bibliophilia, which means “love of books.”  It’s the practice of gathering and owning multiple copies, editions, or volumes of books.  Book collectors can range from casual readers who have collected several books over the years to serious aficionados with hundreds or even thousands in their collections.

Is collecting books a hobby?

Yes, book collecting is a hobby that has been around for centuries.  People have collected books since they were first invented, and it’s still a popular hobby today.  Book collectors can range from casual readers who have collected several books over the years to serious aficionados with hundreds or even thousands in their collections.

How do you decide what to collect?

The first step in book collecting is deciding what type of books to collect.  You can focus on a particular genre, author, or specific editions.  You may also choose to collect books based on their age, condition, cover art, or illustrations.  Whatever you choose should be something that interests and excites you so that your book collection will be enjoyable for years to come.

Are book collections worth it?

Book collecting can be an expensive hobby, but it can also be a great investment.  Depending on the books you collect, your collection can increase in value over time, making it worth the effort and cost.  But more importantly, a well-curated book collection can show off your personality, and it’s lovely to pass your books on to future generations and inspire a future generation of readers.  Plus, you’ll get to enjoy your favorite books for years to come!

Book Collecting for Beginners

Book Collecting for Beginners: Practical Tips to Get You Started

The first step in book collecting is to start with the books you already own.

You may be surprised to learn that you already own a few book collectibles!  To start your book collection, go through your shelves and pull out any particularly old, valuable, or sentimental volumes.  These will form the foundation of your collection. 

As you go through your shelves, consider what type of book collector you want to be and decide what kind of books you want to collect.

Do you want to focus on first editions?  Rare books?  Books by a specific author?  Or do you want to focus on a particular genre or books from a specific era?  Once you have an idea of the types of books you would like to add to your collection, it will be easier to find and start shopping for them.

As a book collecting beginner, it’s important to pick a specific collecting area.

Starting with something as general as “classic literature” can be overwhelming.  Instead, narrow it down to “19th-century American classics” or narrow your topic down even further to “classics from the Harlem Renaissance” or “classics from the Victorian era.” You can always expand your collecting topic as you build your collection or stop and start over with an entirely new subject.

Don’t overthink it.  Collect what you love.

If you’re just getting started, it’s okay to be a little fussy about the books you add to your collection.  But don’t get too caught up in trying to find the “perfect” book.  The most important thing is that you love the books you’re collecting!  The best book collections reflect the personalities and interests of their owners.

Book Collecting: Practical Tips to Get You Started

Shopping for your book collection.

Now that you’ve decided what type of book collector you want to be and have started building your collection with the books you already own, it’s time to start shopping for new additions!

Where to find books

You can find the books you want to collect in several ways.  First, become a regular at your local bookstores (new and used), go to yard and estate sales, thrift and charity shops, and reputable online marketplaces.  Also, sign up for dealer newsletters, catalogs, and reading catalogs.

Pay attention to the condition of the books you’re purchasing.

Condition is one of the most important considerations in book collecting, so buy in the best condition possible within your budget.  When feasible, always take the opportunity to view books in person.  Be sure to inspect any book you are considering purchasing for signs of damage, such as water stains, missing pages, or a loose binding.  These factors can affect the value of the book. 

If you are buying a book online, check the seller’s feedback rating and ensure they have a return policy if the book is not as described. 

As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to have a small collection of high-quality books than a large collection of lower quality.

Create a book collecting budget.

Another important tip for starting a book collection is to create a budget.  Like any other hobby, book collecting can get expensive if you are not careful.  Decide how much money you are willing to spend on new books each month and stick to that budget.  One way to save money on book purchases is to shop at used bookstores or online second-hand booksellers.

While the internet makes it’s easy to shop from home and has the advantage of giving you access to a much wider selection of titles from all over the world, it can also be more expensive.  So when shopping online, be sure to comparison shop and read reviews so that you’re getting the best deal possible.  Another thing to keep in mind when buying books online is shipping costs – make sure that the total cost of the book plus shipping is still within your budget.

Do your research.

Always do your research before buying a book.  There are a lot of fakes out there, and it’s not worth spending your hard-earned money on a copy that’s not the real thing.  Always check the dealer’s reviews and memberships.  If they are members of bookselling and antiquarian book associations and organizations.  They usually abide by strict professional standards.

Storing and taking care of your book collection

Storing and taking care of your book collection

Once you’ve started building your collection, it’s important to take care of your books.  Most collectors consider their investment as preservation for the next generation, and you’ll want them to inherit them in the best condition possible.

Caring for your book collection

Be careful of breaking book spines and opt to use bookmarks instead of dog-eared pages.  Always use bookends to keep your books upright on the shelves.  This will help prevent them from falling over and getting damaged. 

Book storage

Ensure that you have a safe place to store your books – they should be kept out of direct sunlight, away from radiators and moisture, and not exposed to swings in temperature.

Cleaning your book collection

When cleaning your books, be sure to use a soft cloth and gentle cleansers.  Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasives on books and shelves, which can damage the book’s cover and pages.  Don’t forget to dust your shelves regularly.

Additional Book Collecting Tips for Beginners

Additional Book Collecting Tips

  • Join online book communities for advice and support from other collectors.
  • Make sure to research book values before making any purchases
  • Be patient – book collecting can be a slow process, but it is worth the wait!

By following these tips, you will be well on your way to starting a book collection that you can be proud of. So, what are you waiting for? Start your book collection today!

Are you planning to start a book collection?

Are you currently collecting any books or editions?  Do you have any book collecting tips to share?  Please leave us a comment below, and let’s talk about it.


Book Collecting for Beginners - Tips to Get You Started

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  1. Ana says:

    I started collecting books during the pandemic but foolishly never thought to create a budget plan, thanks for the idea! I love collecting classics by 20th century Black women writers but have been trying to narrow that down even further

    • BiblioLifestyle says:

      I’m so happy you found some helpful ideas and tips from this article! I love that you’re collecting books by 20th-century Black women writers, and narrowing that down further means you’ll have a curated collection in the future. Happy reading and collecting!

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