Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bookhunting 101 (repost)

This is repost from my other blog, Unknown: Hole in the Sky explaining how I got in to collecting books.
     I collect lots of things, but my real passion is.. you guessed it, books. I've collected games and systems, board games, posters, cards, movies, comics.. and sold them all and not regretted it one bit. The books have found a place in my house every time I moved, and i never put any in boxes.

     I started buying and sorting books in my room when I was in 7th grade, and in my first year moving to Florida after my parents divorce. My dad bought me a used bed that had a book case in the headboard that would hold about 50+ books. Compelled, I got my lord of the rings trilogy together and set them up like little soldiers right behind where I laid my pillow. One problem, it looked empty. My dad asked me if i wanted some more books, and I said yes just to fill up the headboard so it did not look stupid. For some reason I felt if my friends were to come over, or a girl, they would wonder why i had just three books in there. I was convinced some day a girl would come over so this was pretty important.

     He took me to the Flea Market at the run down drive-in movie theatre several times and i got it filled up. I had only ever read fantasy books and not that many really so had no idea what i was looking for. By coincidence i picked up several Piers Anthony books. One night, laying awake in a small duplex in the ghetto with no TV, phone, or anything to entertain me, i reached behind the headboard and grabbed one of these Anthony books and began to read. I stayed up all that night to read that book, and nearly missed the bus the next morning. I had to have more!

     By the time i was 16, I had finished collecting Piers Anthony books and had most editions and at least one legit copy of each title he published, which was around 250 to 300 books. I had others in my collection by different authors but with no serious direction how i bought them, or how i read them. Altogether i had about 500 books total or 2 book cases and that stupid headboard full to overflowing. I have pictures I will upload later if i can find them. Yes, i took pictures of my books.

     Limited funds did not allow me to buy books for a few years after high school. If i saw something at a garage sale for 10 cents i would pick it up, otherwise i would just skip it. So between 2000 and 2002 i bought and read maybe 75 books total. My hand written ledger confirms this. So for those who are keeping track, i had about 575 books at this point. That's about 3 Super Target bookcases super-full. Between 2003 and 2004, i became a hunter. I pinned thrift stores and flea markets on paper maps in my bedroom and made weekly road trips. People brought me books they were throwing away. I abused the paperback exchange stores with throw away books from libraries and picked up another 300 books in this time. Money way better, so i spent it. In the long term, my hobby does not really cost anything significant, and my girlfriend at the time was supportive and loved telling people our house was a library.

     In 2004 i got married (different woman) and my hording tapered off some. I started to sell some of my first edition rare titles to make some extra money in 2008. I told my wife anything over $100.00 list on ebay is going to be sold which she was really happy about as our house just got destroyed by a tornado. (the books were fine) I sold three books before i almost had some kind of emotional breakdown. I had sold or lost everything else i collected over the years, why should i sell something I've some passionate about? I felt with each ebay sale as if a piece of me was being sucked away.

     Once we stabilized and had our son, i dragged myself to every store i could find, plotting my weekends finding, sorting, reading, writing, and just collecting more books. In this period of time between 2009 and 2011, i bought over 1000 books. Yes you read that right. And i only sold one, for the sole purpose of using that money to buy even more books.

     I changed jobs in 2011 and all of a sudden, I'm getting paid about double what i use to make. My job allows me to travel Florida and see new things and find all these hidden book store not on google. The 50 mile radius around my house became dry, and the only things i could find were at garage sales. I started to search abroad and discovered gold. Since may 2011, i have brought back over 500 books home with me. Again, i only sold one for some mad money to buy even more books.

     I do not have all my books in my database yet as i have been buying them faster than i can get them sorted and put in, but i think I'm well over 2,500 different science fiction and fantasy paper backs. With that i have about 500 or more hard backs. It's enough to fill a room full of bookcases, which is exactly what i will be doing in the coming weeks.. buying lots of bookcases and getting everything organized. I might have to take time off work for this one.

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