The Dark Side of Book Collecting

instant-happiness-booksYou get to the bookshop. Excitement floods your chest. The next book has arrived and you finally get to know if the fantasy world you’ve invested in for a decade will survive (it will) or be destroyed by the fiery pits of the Dark Lord Zaga-zaga-brush-tavi (it won’t). Then a number of possible things happen.

  1. They only have it in hardback. That’s okay, you like hardback and it’s an investment and you’ve got all the others so you’re sorted (and stoked because you must be bloody loaded). Your shelves will look like a work of art and your erudite reputation shall be assured, especially if you take the jackets off and have the nice black spines with gold-leaf lettering facing outward.
  1. They only have it in hardback. Aarrrghh! Check wallet. Hasty budgetary assessment. You mentally cook the books and decide your food can last you at least another week and you wanted to eat less anyway. And hardbacks are sooo pretty and you’ve got the others in hardback and you’ve got the shelf space and you want the book! So win-win-win-win.
  1. They only have it in HB. You can afford it, but damn, all your other books in the series are paperbacks. Your excitement is now tarnished by the inevitable disheveling of your bookshelves. You buy it begrudgingly, feeling the weight of the thick covers, huge pages, and already the bottom edge is torn! Dammit! You slot it back in the plastic bag and carefully slide it into your bag. It doesn’t fit so now you’ve got a shopping bag that could justifiably operate as a flail in an emergency. The weight is rather satisfying though.
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  1. They don’t have it in hardback, but released it in trade paperback. Even worse! Now, you have to buy it for the same cost as a HB, but don’t have the aesthetic satisfaction of a pretty book. You’ve got the equivalent of a thirty-year old baby on your hands! It’s unwieldy, a larger version of something you should love, and doesn’t fit in anywhere. But you buy it anyway. Vaguely disappointed you return home and look forlornly at your once pristine shelves. hardbacks in a row, paperbacks all lined up. And then the trade. The bastard child of books.
  1. You’re committed to consistency. You only have the paperbacks so you will wait and wait and wait until the release so you can get the paperback. The excitement and anticipation is unbearable. You race to the shop, waving your money around like the golden ticket. And then you see the book you’ve been waiting for so long. It’s got a different cover. They redesigned the cover. ‘WHY!?’ you scream, looking around for help, but just get uncomfortable looks as people slowly shuffle away from you. The shop assistants say that that is the cover. You check online. They’re right. You buy the book and plan a scathing blog post when you get home.
  1. You get home. You open the book. And then realise: screw the cover. You’re not buying it for the cover, you forget the bloody cover and sink back into the story you’ve loved for years and only emerge every hour or so for nourishment (if you’re not a no. 2). Once it’s finished, then yes, you do feel oddly dissatisfied as you place it on the shelf, but then realize all your books are a mish-mash. They’re eclectic and individual just like their contents. And that’s awesome.

Time to head back to the bookshop.


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One Response to The Dark Side of Book Collecting

  1. Hear hear; it’s about the story, not the shiny fancy cover that matches your collection. That being said, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of searching for a particular edition and then finding it in the bottom of an old bookshop’s forgotten well of paperbacks, or at the back of a charity shop’s tattered bargain bin.

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