Look what I found:
From two different places and two different sellers and I’ve ordered both of them- the pair was less than $50. Now I can’t wait until they’re in my hot little hands… for starters, I’ve never even read the second one. They’re printed by Houghton Mifflin in about 1880 and I just love the binding. I’m such a sucker for pretty antique books.
This book collecting can get away from you in a hurry.
Speaking of that, I really need to focus my library a bit. I really haven’t thought about exactly what kind of books I am collecting so I’m going to talk that out- feel free to skip as I dial this in. Unless you’re actually interested in the process…
Ok, first things first, I want to collect books that I like to read. I don’t care about ‘significant’ books or ‘great’ books or even books that have won prizes. I like to read what I like so I’m going to limit my library to books I have read that I will want to read again. I don’t care if this means I only collect 5 books of a 7 book series (Narnia)- if I don’t want to read it again, there is no point in taking up the shelf space. So #1- books I like.
#2. I want a good copy in good condition. Well, no, not actually. I want the best copy in good condition. This means I want the prettiest binding with the best illustrations (if illustrations there are) by my definition of “best” which means I like it the most. For instance, I like the Juanita Bennett illustrations of ‘Little Women’ the best- all others need not apply.
#3. Unabridged and not re-edited. If the text has been changed to make it more politically correct some years after it was published, I want the earlier version. I had kiniption fits when I discovered that my lovely leather bound copy of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ had been re-edited- are you kidding me? Who in the hell do you think you are to change words in a classic like that? I also disliked that the ‘editor’ had about a thirty page introduction… if you want to write your own paper on ‘Huckleberry Finn’ feel free… but don’t add it to the front of my copy! I don’t give a sweet damn about you and your opinions. I also discovered that Robert Lawson’s ‘Rabbit Hill’ was changed in the 70s to remove text that implied the servant was black. Still looking for an older copy with the unedited text. Bowdlerization continues even today- but not in my library. Abridged books are simply not acceptable either.
This creates some friction- the above mentioned Bennett illustrations of ‘Little Women’ are only available in the abridged Whitman copy of the book. I also have trouble with ‘The Wizard of OZ’ as the illustrations I want are by Evelyn Copelman, not Denzlow, and most copies with her illustrations have had the pictures cropped and chopped.
#4. I want either archival paper or, in the case of a few books, paper treated to reduce the acid content as much as possible. I am debating if it is better to scan and reprint some of the fabulous books printed in the 20th century or to treat the originals with deacidification spray. (Prior to that, acid is not a factor.) This means that any 20th century book, I don’t want the first edition as it will be on fast deteriorating acidic paper.
This does not seem to be helping me dial in my library very much *sigh*.
Ok- I’m going to collect books I want to read and reread with the best text and illustrations available, in the best binding I can find or make. No attention will be paid to genre, particular author, time period or gravitas of book so I don’t know if that actually qualifies as a ‘collection’ or just a personal library.