What’s Your Book Collecting Style?

Are you an extreme collector?  Admit it, you’ve kept every book you’ve ever read and could easily open up your own private library.  No?  Then what?

Personally, I’ve been debating.  I have this thing where I usually do what I can to buy only hardcover books.  It’s a fetish of sorts.  The problem with that is that I also tend to keep most every book I buy.  So, I’m quickly running out of space on my bookshelves and in my house.  So, then what?  Put some in boxes and store them?  Gasp!  Sell some? Gasp!  NO!  *quickly starts grabbing books from the desk around him*  “My Pretties…”

Seriously though.  There are some that I just won’t be rid of.  My Stephen King collection for instance.  No where near complete, but still expansive.  I’ve got a couple of collectibles in there as well.  A signed copy of American Gods (that I haven’t actually read), a history book from pre 1900, and several books from the mid 1900’s.  Those will stay.  But what of the rest?  I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really necessary to keep them ALL.  Chances are that I won’t reread 99% of them.  I very rarely do.

I do dream, however, of a home library.  A room that has it’s walls covered in bookshelves with comfy chairs and maybe even one of those cool wall ladders that you see occasionally that slide around from place to place.  Dark hardwoods, accented by a little bit of leather and a lot of old world flair.  And a few fantasy elements thrown in for eccentricity’s sake.  Ahh…

But, that is likely going to be way, way down the road or never.  So, with limited space and limited shelving, what’s a reader to do?

What does your book situation look like?  If you’ve got pics, feel free to link to them, but let us know.


  1. Personally, my book collecting style is getting worse. It is the primary reason I vow to try and avoid moving ever again. (Since you have helped me move my book collection once or twice, I am sure you will be pleased with this vow…)

    I did a rough count and have a little under 500 myself, bulk being paperbacks. Looking through my collection, some of my favorites are paperbacks that I have worn pretty thin and I am now planning on replacing with hard-cover edition. (Example, Jordan’s Wheel of TIme. Books 1-6 are paperback, 7-12 are hardcover meaning that’s when I finally caught up with the author.) So I am still out of shelf space for these books and planning on making it worse by acquiring hardcovers. I do have the advantage of having an “office” room that is mostly book storage.

    Signed copies are something that I haven’t ever worried too much about, but am starting to get into. I have always operated on the logic that I would be afraid to read a signed copy, so have erred on the side of paperbacks that I can dog-ear and wear out with many re-reads.

    My storage solution isn’t optimal for everyone though. I am going to be getting a 2-sided bookstore style shelf in the room to get the rest of the books off the floor. (This is in addition to the custom built 7ft long by 4ft high bookshelf that I built when we moved into the house.) It is going to take up a chunk of floorspace in the middle of the room and only a book lover/collector would find it stylish or aesthetically pleasing. (ie – my wife is going to hate it, but she got the yellow kitchen, so we are even.)

    Sooo I would have to say I fall into the personal library section of the collector types. Trying to catalog my books by recording ISBN’s is not a fun project that I am working on right now…

  2. My walls are filled in every room just about. All my life I dreamed of having a really, really good reference library for whatever writing or project I needed to do. For the emotional situations of life, I want to read poetry. Then there are many books of clip art for collages and other art projects. I have over 200 books of my favorite art and art history plus a large craft how-to section (I consider them reference books). Mysteries get passed on, though I treasure them. Science Fiction I love and keep, and non-fiction biographies and books about science. It feels good just to look at them. When I was little, no one had time to take me to the library and it probably created the collecting obsession in me. There is enough to keep me reading for the rest of my life, since I love to read my favorites over. Every five or ten year, you’re actually different enough to get a totally new perspective on old favorites. If I had money, I would collect those perfect facsimiles of medieval manuscripts–because their beauty drives me crazy–along with all the wonderful book jewelry they invented for the covers. Simon Bening is my all time favorite. Guess this makes me pretty book obsessed.
    Double up the paperbacks in a shelf–I know what I have and where it is. The best hardbacks have pride of place, but I do try to keep like subjects together. All my poetry is in one area, and because they tend to be smaller books, they are doubled up, too. Right under the ceiling is a great place to run a shelf clear around the room! That’s good for another 100 or so books. Happy collecting!

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