Hardcover? Or paperback?
Illustrations? Or just text?
First editions? Or you don’t care?
Signed by the author? Or not?
I see this question as an extension of the buy versus library conversation, which I have to admit, I have softened my opinion on after several successful trips to the local library where I was able to borrow some perfectly acceptable light-reading novels and mysteries that would not need to have a permanent place in our home.*
I don’t really think of books as collectables, like stamps or coins or such, and so things like special editions or pristine copies don’t interest me all that much. Though, I think a library reflects its owner in ways that a stamp collection can’t – or maybe that’s because I’m a reader and not a stamp collector. I’d welcome more authors’ signatures, because I think that enhances our appreciation of the work to connect if with someone real.
If there was anything close that I would like to collect, it’s antique maps. I’ve always loved cartography and maps are snapshots of our understanding of the world at a given point in time. The Beloved gave me one once and it’s my favorite possession. It’s a map used by the original US military exploration of what is now the American Southwest in 1840s. The map we have shows northern New Mexico and the Rio Grande valley – a place central to the beginnings of our relationship. For you San Diegans, that force was commanded by Stephen Kearny of Kearny Mesa fame.
The store in Santa Fe where the map was from was one of our favorite places to poke around in. If there was ever I time when I was unfettered of financial worries (or conscience), I’d indulge myself with a map from 1716 that shows the understanding of the Americas. California is pictured as an island.
Chalk me up as a giant nerd, but I think that’s really cool.
*Though I will admit a twinge of regret when I placed “Anathem” in the book deposit slot. That was a book I liked enough to want to keep. I will have to keep my eye open for when it goes on discount and get it for the home library.