I’ve been hanging, far too long, onto a hopeless notion: that the books I own are worth something – they’re not. O course I do have some valuable titles, but many more, acquired over the past decade – first editions in fine/fine condition – aren’t worth as much now as they were when I paid for them. Sure I’ve enjoyed having them on the shelves around me, even enjoyed reading a few of them. But now it’s time to clear space for another collection focus, and I wont get anywhere near what I think they’re worth. Not even in trade.
Sadly this makes it very difficult to do what many authorities used to point to as one of the most enjoyable aspects of book collecting. Trading up, as painful as it is to admit, just doesn’t work anymore – too much supply. With Kindles and iPads, Kobos and Nooks, too many are clearing house. No longer can you scout book sales with much hope of profit. No longer can you enlist your gargantuan biblio knowledge of what’s good, what’s great, to spot winning titles and turn them into gold – not unless you’re 100 times luckier than normal.
Books I’ve reluctantly come to conclude are like diamonds: they’re beautiful. You can be proud to own them; you can spend many rich hours admiring them, showing them off even, but when it comes to unloading them, trading them in, beware, you wont make your money back. Now more than ever, if you love books and want to develop a collection that’s worth something you must think very, very hard not only about the content, but also about the container.