Two things I particularly love about book collecting:
- It is a game, and
- I get to make up (some of) the rules.
Not all the rules are free for interpretation. The ones that aren’t are mostly dictated by market forces – scarce books are worth more than common ones, books in good condition are worth more than beat-up ones, and so on.
But the beauty of scouting books, especially for your own collection, is that you really can do it on any budget and at any price point. I make approximately $30,000 per year as a freelance writer, and I pay hefty medical bills – yet I can also support my book-collecting habit easily on less than $50.00 per month.
Here are my personal rules for finding and buying collectible books:
1. If I spend more than $30.00 in any one shop, I’m doing it wrong.
2. I shall never pay more than $1.00 for a paperback or $2.00 for a hardcover unless I am absolutely certain the book will sell for at least three times (3x) the asking price, or it’s a fair market price for a book I plan to add to my personal collection.
3. If it’s not a first edition, I can’t afford it. Not even if it’s free.
4. I may only buy as many books as I am physically able to carry to the register in one trip.
5. I will let go of my mistakes.
Your rules, of course, may vary. But these are the rules by which I play the game. Here’s why: