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I seem to have stockpiled books too. I think when I was fairly young I had this idea there weren't many copies of each book, so if I didn't buy one when I could, I might never have the chance again.
Often when I like a book, I wish to read it again later on. Since I could not rely upon libraries for the fiction books I wished to read, I was trained to buy what I wanted and keep them and fill in gaps among those that were missing. Hence, I'm not reliant on the shelf space, budgets, or critical whims of the libraries that happened to be near me. If it took more than two weeks to read a book, I did not have to worry about racking up late return fees.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, I have seldom had occasion to regret a book purchase. Perhaps too much was spent or the book was not as good as hoped. However, one can usually sell or donate the book that is not worth keeping. I have had several examples where I did not or could not afford to purchase a desired book and the pang stays with me for years sometimes. On some items you don't get a second chance. For others, I have and am glad I acted the next time I had a chance.
When I can, I prefer to buy books "in person" at a store or book fair. Getting the desired condition and printing and other features is important to me. Even in a new bookstore I may look through a dozen or more copies to find one that is in the best condition and the proper printing codes. However, as the number of bookstores and book fairs contracts, or they don't carry what I wish to buy, I am again conditioned to shop and buy online. Sometimes this entails a certain risk in not getting exactly what is wanted. Then again, I have found things on eBay that I would probably never locate in my visits to stores and fairs.
If I only want a reading copy of a book (reference, sampling of a new author or series) then I may use the used book databases or even Amazon used book listings to find the lowest price copy at a minimum desired condition level. If I find I like the book, I may upgrade at a later time.
While building our collections, and I expect to continue for another quarter century, we are already facing the question of who will get these next after we are gone. Quite possibly libraries won't care about them, even the institutional ones, and without children of our own, that path is not a likely one available. It's hard to know when to sell or gift one's books to those who would appreciate them. I imagine that many collectors will face this problem before we do as Baby Boomers retire, move to smaller homes, and pass beyond. Still, it would be foolish of us not to at least think about this sort of thing. Cataloging on LibraryThing is an important part of this. We can record what is important about a book (to us and others) and perhaps even research and record values in the private comments field. This way, a person charged with disposing of the books can have some guiding information.
For now, we're trying to figure out how we can afford to have a larger home to properly store and care for our growing collections.
Early on, the thrill was in completing a set of series fiction, which became a quest for the hard-to-find author edition (mostly out-of-print), then completing an author's catalog. This led into multiple editions of the same book (due to editing, interesting cover art or UK edition (I'm in the US) and eventually some foreign language editions). These days, instead of looking to complete works I've come to appreciate having first edition works and going to speaking engagements to have them signed. Because of my interest both in comics, author works, illustration and the combination of the three, I like to seek out the illustrators and have them remarque the books with a small sketch - combine this with an author's inscription and I get the trifecta effect for my collecting.
95% or so of my book collection is made up of First Editions (using caps to signify that the books are also first printings), so I don't tag them as such - I do identify later printings either in the pub data or as a comment. I also tag them as to Signed, Inscribed (the second indicates that they are signed to me or someone else - if someone else or if there is a particular message other than just my name, I put the inscription into the comments field), Sketched, Limited (if limited I'll put the number and extent of the limitation into comments), BCE, ARC, etc to help sort the books. I also use the Tag field to identify where the book is located (room, wall, bookcase, shelf or if boxed, the letter/number combination).
I wish LT would allow the upload of custom photos of the books - I'd like to use LT to record any special marks of the edition (like if it's sketched or inscribed, it would be useful to upload a scan or photo).
Basically, I collect books for a variety of reasons, but the one constant is the fact that I enjoy spending money - too much. I collect records, books, Aynsley Pembroke porcelain, Wedgewood ashtrays, ties, cigars... comic books, baseball cards, Ron Paul campaign literature, reciepts from meals I've had with close friends, and even 1960-'80s Fruit of the Loom underwear, just because I like to note the differences in dimensions, logos, and washing instructions on the tags.
Okay, that last one was a joke, I swear. I don't collect books for any other purpose then reading, but I find little more entertaining than searching book stores for an interesting copy of the hundreds of books I am interested in reading. If I find that I suddenly am interested in an author or a particular book, I scour the internet to find the most interesting copy of it. Or, I go on eBay and look through the auctions that are ending in the next couple of hours looking for leather/cloth bound books and first editions. One of the reasons I persist in buying books though, even though I have a massive back-catalogue is that, when I am out of school and have a (hopefully well-paying) job, I'd like to have a dedicated library(/study/smoking room), and pass it down to my children (should the good lord be gracious enough to give me one or two, but no more than three), and even if I cannot read them all, I still think it would be beneficial for my heirs to have books by authors such as Dickens, despite the fact that I have no interest right now of reading him. Essentially, I suppose I'll use any excuse to buy more books.
My book collection includes paperbacks, but for the most part contains Everman's and Modern Library books, as I find them most accessible at book stores, and their quality is reasonably good, and a few Easton Press and Franklin Library books, as well as assorted antique editions (still no fore-edge painting though :( ).
As for sheet music, I have very little, just some I have bought in my failed attempts at picking up the Organ (I do intend to buy a Keyboard soon, but we'll see I have to get my underwear collection back to it's former glory (the bleach purchases really add up). I would like my children to be able to read music, but no guitar for them; I'm thinking clavichord, harp, violin, etc.