Do you dream of bookshelves lined with leather-bound first editions? Or maybe just paperback copies of all the titles by your favorite mystery author? Wherever your book interests reside, building a home library can be lots of fun and you will probably find new interests as you explore the bookstores near your home and in all the places you visit. It can get expensive, so keeping a list and setting a budget can help you inexpensively build a quality home library.
Things You Will Need
List of authors and titles you would like to collect
Monthly book budget
Step 1Determine the purpose for your home library. Will it be for a monetary investment or for your reading or research pleasure? The purpose of your collection of books will help determine your monthly budget for collecting.
Step 2Make a list of the authors, titles or subjects you would like to start collecting. You will appreciate having a list when you walk into a bookstore and have so many sections to visit. The list will remind you what to look for but will also prevent the purchase of duplicate titles.
Step 3Set a monthly book budget and stick to it. Many book lovers would gladly forfeit other expenditures so that they can buy books, but in order to have a home library, you need to have a home, so make sure to adhere to your monthly book budget so you can still pay your rent or house payment. Groceries are optional.
Step 4Research the definitions of book condition so that if you buy books online from a book dealer, you know the difference between a book in Good, Very Good and Fine condition and know what you will be receiving. Very Good condition is okay for many people building home libraries, but Good condition is actually not all that great for a book you're planning on keeping.
Step 5Avoid book club and ex-library editions, unless they are unattainable or prohibitively expensive otherwise. Book club editions are typically made more cheaply than regular copies by the use of inferior materials. Ex-library copies are usually in Acceptable or Good condition at best due to heavy usage and are not suitable for a home collection unless they're not available any other way.
Step 6Shop locally. With wish list in hand, visit used bookstores in your area as well as thrift stores, but pay close attention to the condition of any books you're interested in. Ask the bookstore to watch for certain titles or authors for you, especially if they specialize in your subjects. Keep your budget in mind as you shop because you'll no doubt find lots of books that interest you that aren't on your list. You can also check out library book sales; they have lots of books donated by the public that are not ex-library copies.
Step 7Shop online. Periodically search for your hard-to-find titles on Abebooks, Alibris and eBay. Depending on the scarcity, most books eventually turn up.
Step 8Trade up. Once in a while you will find a copy of a title you have been seeking for a while, but it's not in great condition. If it's not too expensive, buy it knowing you will replace it later when you find a copy in better condition.
Step 9Maintain sufficient storage conditions to protect your book collection. Whether sentimental or monetary, it is an investment and you will want to ensure the longevity of your collection. Keep your books out of direct sunlight and damp environments. Stand books upright on shelves so that they don't lean and weaken the spine. You will be the envy of all your biblioholic friends in no time with your home library filled with all sorts of reading treasures. Make sure to keep an updated wish list with you when you visit bookstores in your area to help you find needed titles, but at the same time, peruse the store for other authors and subjects that would be valuable additions to your growing book collection.
Tips & WarningsIf you loan out books to friends and family members, consider keeping on hand second "reading" copies of your favorite titles that you can pass around. This way, you can share, but don't have to be concerned with getting the books back or getting them returned in poor condition.
If you're building a children's library, make sure to keep lots of books accessible to them for reading, but keep more collectible books out of reach so that only you can get them down when you and your child read the books together.
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