Oct 1, 2013

Books and More Books: Collection or Accumulation?

From the time I was a college student, I’ve been a collector of books. Well, not a collector exactly; more like an accumulator. Over the course of a lifetime, avid readers can accumulate a lot of books. In my house, books are like Kudzu; clean them out, get rid of them, and next year they’re back again.

Estate executors are often confounded by large accumulations of books. Hardcover books have always been the most expensive choice in buying books, so some executors panic when they see floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with hardcover books. They ask me which, if any, are valuable.

“How do I tell?” they ask. “If this is a first edition, isn’t it worth something? These books are really old; should I notify Antiques Roadshow?”

My answer is usually not to their liking: some may be valuable; most will not be; and the only way to tell is to take them down from the shelf, one-by-one, and inspect them. Read More

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