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I'd say there are two, maybe three levels of collecting. Collections of books that aren't necessarily worth a ton alone but can be worth a lot together. To me an example of this would be the religion collection I'm trying to build, where most of the books are from B&N, Powells', etc. Next would be people who collect first editions, where the books themselves are worth a bit. This includes autographed and association copies. An example of this would be Nicholas Basbanes library. The third would be the people who collect stuff like the First Folio, etc.
(a) you collect rare/collectible/worth books as sought after the industry standard collectors themselves (eg. first ed. of Hemingway, Fritzgerald, Twain etc.); or
(b) you collect books that are of your interest and sometime many years in the future when a lawyer is reading your testament it is considered at valuation that the books you've collect are worth alot making your ungrateful offsprings wealthy who sell it to buy an Aston Martin and live the life you dreamed of living.
Think about when J. "Jerry" D. Salinger gave an inscribed copy of his A Catcher in the Rye to Hemingway, did Hemingway think it would be worth a lot and one day Hemingway will cash in on it? I don't think so.
I think people in todays society are too worried about capitalizing on their books that they forget the very essence of reading and enjoying the wealth one acquires in the form of knowledge received.
1. Make your library personal and enjoy it.
2. Stop worrying about capitalizing on books
3. If you have know-how and money capitalize where it belongs to capitalize eg. on the equity market.
4. If you can afford it buy LE of books that you love and preferably signed editions.
5. Try to obtain signed editions of the books that your into.
6. Stop being naive enough to think that you'll be rich one day because of the rare/collectible books you have in your collection because YOU will NEVER sell it anyway (I mean how could you anyway, it took you gazzilion years to buy it in the first place)
7. Your collection will be worth a lot to your children who will either sell it to gain cash advantage or build it to their offsprings
Now go and have a Martini, stirred with one olive and read a book
A collection for me is something that is built on purpose, not by accident. You may develop an urge to buy everything on the subject, even if you can't read it (it's in Greek) or it's outdated (1960's travel guides on Greece). You might even consider buying several copies of some things, or several different editions, just because they complement the collection.
A collection can also have structure: you find that the 156 Greece items can be subdivided into smaller themes (like Greek architecture, Ancient Greek religion, Women in ancient Greece, ...). Because 'Greece' as a subjest is really large, you might decide to refine your collecting habits.
My main collection is on French composer (and author) Hector Berlioz. I have about 120 books about him or by him, mostly biographies. These include outdated biographies, collections of letters that have been superseded by newer and better collections, criticism of his works, several editions of his Memoirs and other writings, ... I try to be exhaustive on the part of the biographies. I will also try to pick up any edition of his writings in the original French, but there are far too many to be complete.
Also part of the collection are biographies of contemporaries of Berlioz (I have a few Liszt biographies) and scientific anthologies on French music of that period; but they are more like tools: I bought them to read and use, not to collect.
All in all, it's a pretty intuitive thing, collecting. Sometimes it's hard to explain what you consider as part of the collection and what not; you just feel that it is (or isn't).