My house is overflowing with books. It was that way before I started working for Powell's and has only gotten worse. Once or twice a year I resolve to clear the shelves and start fresh. I mean, why am I keeping my Norton Anthology of English Literature
? Usually in the spring I get the urge to sell some of our books. In the old days we would take a long weekend and attempt to separate the "keepers" from the "discards." That could take a whole weekend, what with the copious vetoes from my partner. Once the books are bagged up, we'd head to Powell's to see what they would buy. That process has just become a bit easier. Debbie's veto power won't ever change, but now, we can sell our books online
It is wonderfully convenient. Mailing the books to Powells.com (Powell's pays for the shipping, by the way) is a huge timesaver. It leaves me more time to agonize over what to sell and what to keep. Some of the books hold sentimental value, like my battered copy of Jitterbug Perfume. But I'd trade that paperback for the first edition hardcover because I am a collector at heart.
I had always "collected" books in the same way that a shelf collects dust. But in the last few years I've started to be more serious about it. We're not talking about a valuable collection, but I'm having fun. A few books have helped me be smarter about collecting.
An indispensable tool is ABC for Book Collectors, now in its eighth edition. The book is a dictionary of book terms. From "Adams" to "Zinco," John Carter will explain it all in simple, clear prose. For people wanting practical information about how to recognize valuable books, two books ? Instant Expert: Collecting Books and Book Finds ? are great. Both of them are written for people who like to poke around used book shops and garage sales. Who knows, maybe you'll find a first edition of Gone with the Wind for $20 at Goodwill and thanks to Ian Ellis's Book Finds, you'll know it when you see it.