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Daniel_B
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Specialization: Finding Your Niche

[ Edited ]
In the first chapter of Ian C. Ellis's Book Finds (“Getting Started”), Ellis lays out four simple rules for book collecting. The first rule is “specialization”. In other words, it’s impossible for a collector to be familiar with all aspects of the printed literature of the last five hundred years. But you can become an expert in some specific area – like novels related to your city or state, or books by your favorite author, or a particular genre. Let your interests guide you. As Ellis says, “You’re never going to know everything.”

If you’re already a collector, tell us what you specialize in and how you decided to focus on the books that you collect. If you’re just getting started, tell us about your interests and what you would like to specialize in.

Daniel

Message Edited by Daniel_B on 06-22-2007 05:38 PM
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Nelsmom
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

David,

I guess you would say that I specialize in Science Fiction/Fantasy. I especially look for Andre Norton and Jo Clayton Books. I know that they are not all that old but I know that a lot of Andre Norton's early children's books have not been rereleased and with her Death I don't know if the estate will rereleas them. And Jo Clayton her early books have not been rereleased and I don't know if they will. I also have a lot of Marion Zimmer Breadley's Darkover novels.

Toni
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becke_davis
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

For years, I collected mystery books by my favorite authors until they began to take over my house. Now, instead of that, I keep my favorites and pass on the rest to friends. I do, however, have a bookcase that is dedicated to Agatha Christie. I don't collect first editions, hardbacks or even her rare, autographed copies (although I do have a couple). Instead, I have at least one copy of all of her books, 1 English and 1 American edition at least. The collection started when I was in high school and a woman I babysat for gave me a couple boxes of old, 1930s/1940s Agatha Christie's. I still have those but they have been read so often they are literally falling apart. As you can tell, I collect for sentimental reasons, not to build up a valuable collection. I also have the Mary Westmacott books, books about Christie, her autobiography, and quite a few mysteries that are either about Christie or refer to her books.

In addition to those, I collect books on plants and gardening (old and new) and books with history/genealogy-related interests.
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-madrilena_
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche



Daniel_B wrote:
In the first chapter of Ian C. Ellis's Book Finds (“Getting Started”), Ellis lays out four simple rules for book collecting. The first rule is “specialization”. In other words, it’s impossible for a collector to be familiar with all aspects of the printed literature of the last five hundred years. But you can become an expert in some specific area – like novels related to your city or state, or books by your favorite author, or a particular genre. Let your interests guide you. As Ellis says, “You’re never going to know everything.”

If you’re already a collector, tell us what you specialize in and how you decided to focus on the books that you collect. If you’re just getting started, tell us about your interests and what you would like to specialize in.

Daniel

Message Edited by Daniel_B on 06-22-2007 05:38 PM




Hi Daniel,
Enjoying your course. I collect first editions of John Le Carré. I am living in Madrid, Spain, so I look for them when I am at home (the U.S.) and sometimes in used book shops here in Madrid. Just a few weeks ago I bought a signed first edition in Barnes & Nobles of "The Secret Pilgrim". My son is in the U.S. and will be bringing it back next week. I am very excited!

I find the concept of different printings within a first edition difficult to understand. I have a first edition, second impression of "The honourable schoolboy", London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1977. So, that means it is not a first edition?

Also I have "The spy who came in from the cold" published by The Reprint Society for World Books, 1964, in London with dust jacket. I bought it for 35 Euros in Shakespeare and Co. in Paris in January. According to the bibliography I have "The Spy who came in from the Cold" was first published by Gollancz in 1963. I suppose it is not very valuable either, although I am very happy to have it.

Thank you for your course and assistance,
Susan in Madrid
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Daniel_B
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche



-madrilena_ wrote:


I find the concept of different printings within a first edition difficult to understand. I have a first edition, second impression of "The honourable schoolboy", London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1977. So, that means it is not a first edition?

Also I have "The spy who came in from the cold" published by The Reprint Society for World Books, 1964, in London with dust jacket. I bought it for 35 Euros in Shakespeare and Co. in Paris in January. According to the bibliography I have "The Spy who came in from the Cold" was first published by Gollancz in 1963. I suppose it is not very valuable either, although I am very happy to have it.

Thank you for your course and assistance,
Susan in Madrid




Hello Susan, thanks for posting. The first edition concept is a bit tricky -- basically the term has two different meanings. Collectors and (usually) dealers use "first edition" in the original sense, where it refers to the very first version of a book to be released to the general public. For modern books, this means the first printing. For publishers, the term "first edition" can be applied to any number of printings of the same title, so long as the text doesn't undergo some significant revision and the format (usually hardcover) doesn't change. In other words, your book would be referred to as a "first edition" by the publisher. However, minor textual changes are often made from printing to printing within a single edition. So for collectors and dealers, the "true" first edition would be the first printing only. In fact, sometimes collectors and dealers will distinguish first printings with the phrase "true first edition" or simply "first edition, first printing" (to avoid confusion). They would generally still refer to a second printing as "first edition, second printing" or "first edition, later printing" -- but they would not call it a "first edition" without qualifying it in some way.

This is not to say that second printings or even limited editions (which you also mention) are not valuable. Very often, when a first edition is difficult to find or exceptionally expensive, collectors will seek later printings or reprints. And often there aren't major differences between first printings and later printings ... so if you simply like the book and want a nice copy of it, later printings are a good, affordable way to go. I would definitely not go so far as to suggest that anyone should collect first editions at the exclusion of all else.

Let us know how you like your latest Le Carre book when you get it, sounds like a good find. Thanks Susan.

Daniel
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Doria
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi- I am now reading and collecting books about New York City. I am a senior citizen, now living in Virginia. But,I was born, raised,educated, worked and lived in New York most of my life. As far as I am concerned I am a New Yorker. However, it is only in recent years that I became so aware of the history of that city. There is so much to learn. So now that is one of my main reading interest. I also like books on religion and biographies.
Doria
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KathyH
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

What a great discussion!

A number of years ago I read two articles in, I think, Harper's. One was on the lost art of letter writing - which I still practice. The second was the fact that we no longer have libraries in homes as they did in previous generations. The author of this article surmised that readers were confused/intimidated about how to start a personal library. He suggested that a reader find one or two authors he/she enjoyed and collect their works. It didn't matter if no one else thought your choices were "correct." So I began.

In addition to collecting specific authors (I lean toward fiction, mystery, relationship authors - Jeffrey Archer, Anne Perry, David Baldacci, Donna Leon, John Irving, John Le Carre, John Grishom, Scott Turrow, etc.), I starting purchasing books by authors I read about in obituaries. They represent topics I never would have considered because they never came to mind. For example, my first such purchase was "A Social History of London" by Roy Porter. I've had a wonderful adventure reading about so many vast and different topics, both non-fiction and fiction. I've coped the Barnes and Noble Book Groups because I've learned about more authors and have made some online author friends - Frank Delaney, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Debbie Macomber, Niall Ferguson, Walter Isaacson.

I just moved this past week and my 100 boxes of packed books are in a storage unit until I can get settled. So, of course, I had to buy a couple! Now I'm on a quest to read about pragmatism through an article in The Hoover Digest.

KathyH
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suetu
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi,

I have a really idiosyncratic literary collection that has been amusing booksellers all over the US for years now. I call it the "Trashy Underwater Fiction" collection.

You see, I spent several years as the editor of one of the major American scuba diving magazines. I read A LOT of really terrible unsolicited submissions. As almost a joke, I started collecting and reading novels (the worse the better) that take place under the sea. Now I have hundreds and hundreds of novels dealing with killer marine life (sharks, whales, piranha, jellyfish, crabs, sea lions, algae--you name it!), scuba diving, mermaids, sunken treasure, underwater cities/habitats, talking dolphins, the lost continent of Atlantis, sea monsters, underwater exploration, etc.

They cover not only decades but centuries of literature, and encompass the history of man's knowledge and exploration of the underwater environment. And a lot of them are really, really, ridiculously bad! But, not all. Verne, Hemingway, and Melville have their place on my shelves. I have many different editions of books. Some are signed firsts. For instance, I have wonderfully personally inscribed first editions of each of Peter Benchley's books, including Jaws, and he also drew little shark cartoons in all of my novels. Even just being reading copies, they may be worth something, but it doesn't matter as my books will never be sold. But nearly as dear to me are my wonderful, wonderful trashy pulp fiction paperbacks. Oh, and rare small press and/or self published titles. Obscure foreign trashy underwater fiction. All are treasured.

As I mentioned above, I don't collect for value. I enjoy reading and sharing my collection. Nonetheless, over the course of many years of haunting used book stores, I may well have accrued one of the finest collections of its kind. (And, no, it's not the only collection of it's kind, LOL.) In the scheme of things, it's a harmless, if eccentric hobby.

I'd love to hear about other's odd collections!
Susan
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi all:

I'm very pleased to see that Susan got this talk going again. Thank you Susan!

I like to collect mysteries: mainly British authors, autographed, first/firsts. If I can, I try to obtain both the British and American first editions. I'm not wealthy, so I collect slowly and carefully. Some favorite authors are Diane Setterfield, PD James and Michael Cox.

Kathy H wrote about personal libraries. I started mine many years ago, beginning by collecting Easton Press books. I know they are not particularly valuable but they are beautiful and I hope to pass them along to my children. On the topic of libraries, I enjoy visiting them. Favorites are the Library of Congress, the NY Public Library and the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin.

Doria: you wrote about collecting books about New York city. Do you have any particular favorites? I ask because my wife is from the city.

Susan: your "odd" collection sounds like great fun!

Mike
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thinker
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

I'm classics, all classics, any classics!!
However lately I've also gotten into some non-fiction, more along science/nature lines!
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suetu
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche


cmprofessor wrote:

Susan: your "odd" collection sounds like great fun!

Mike




Thanks, Mike, it is. :smileyhappy:

This past weekend a local shop specializing in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror had a big sale on mass market paperbacks. I picked up several dozen novels for my collection, and while ringing me up the booksellers were amazed by how many themed novels I'd pulled from their shelves.

I even amaze myself with my ability to ferret out these kooky novels. Various words (deep, under, blue, green, black, water, pressure, sea, ocean, lake, island, marine, depth, cold, dark, rising, creature, monster, down, dive, shark, whale, leviathan, fish, mermaid, etc.) or just the look of a book's spine will have me taking a closer look at a book. Sometimes I don't know what triggers me to look closer, but I seem to have a sixth sense about finding these stupid things.

What can I say, silly hobbies keep me out of trouble, LOL.
Susan
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luckycharm6139
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi Toni, I love Marion Zimmer Bradleys Mists of Avalon series. I too also look for her when I am at booksales.
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luckycharm6139
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi Danial and everyone. I can't believe how lucky I am to find a group of people with similar interests as mine. My boyfriend and I have recently started collecting books of interest. My interest area is history, biographies of historical people as in Tudor area mostly. I also like some classics. Recently I found a fisrt edition Mark Twain book called The Recollections of Joan of Arc, I found it for $4.00 and looked online and saw it listed for $400.00 !My boyfriend has an interest in metaphysical and occult and found two very rare books at the book sales to also valued over $300.00. It's nice to know that we can do something on the weekends togather that we both enjoy and does't cost alot. A bag of books for $5.00 is just my speed and who knows we may find another treasure.
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cmprofessor
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi Susan:

Thanks for your note. Seems like you and your collection were meant to be (I mean that as a compliment)! I, too, seem to be able to "find" what I'm looking for. But, I also prepare before going to a book store or sale. I usually look over my lists of what I already have (which helped break me of the habit of coming home with yet another copy of a book I already had!) and what condition they're in. I've been able to "upgrade" book condition fairly easily and then donate the extra copy to one of our local libraries.

One thing I would like to be able to do is use a PDA (with all my lists included) when I'm browsing. Have you (or perhaps another reader) done that? If so, I'd like to hear suggestions on make/model and how you actually used the PDA?

Mike
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cmprofessor
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hello Luckycharm:

Very nice to read your post! My wife and I enjoy finding bargains too! I think Mark Twain is fun to read. A while back I obtained a multi-volume set of his stories from the Easton Press. I like their books as I think they're beautiful.

Mike
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luckycharm6139
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi Mike nice to meet you. I do enjoy reading Mark Twain, It's most interesting at how the way he wrote in his day was quite acceptable, yet today there are places that ban his books because of his use of what they consider degrading remarks of people of color.
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cmprofessor
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi luckycharm: have you seen any of the Easton Press books?

Mike
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suetu
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche


cmprofessor wrote:
One thing I would like to be able to do is use a PDA (with all my lists included) when I'm browsing. Have you (or perhaps another reader) done that? If so, I'd like to hear suggestions on make/model and how you actually used the PDA?

Mike




Hi Mike,

I'm not a gadget-y kind of girl, so "no" on the PDA. But for cataloging and organizing my library online, I'm loving www.librarything.com. :smileyhappy:
Susan
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cmprofessor
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Hi Susan:

Thanks for your help. Librarything looks like a great site!

Mike
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suetu
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Re: Specialization: Finding Your Niche

Glad it was of interest, Mike!

Now it looks like our topic is retired. :smileysad:
Susan
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