The Xanadu group still needs brilliant people looking for adventure and a challenge, long hours, low pay, accidental food, and a small chance of fame and fortune. We have to save mankind from an almost certain and immediately approaching doom through the application, expansion and dissemination of intelligence. Not artificial, but the human kind. To humankind.
– Theodor Holm (Ted) Nelson, Literary Machines (ed. 87.1, 0/13)
The rare book world can be intimidating. Walk into a rare bookshop, and you suddenly find yourself fingering a $1,000 pile of paper that, quite frankly, doesn’t seem very impressive. Have the guts to ask the shopkeeper why that particular book is worth such an exorbitant sum, and you’re undoubtedly met with a rant filled with names and dates you’ll never remember, as well as words like signature and square that don’t seem to mean what they usually mean.
It can be even worse at a book fair. Booksellers dressed like used car salesmen schmooze with passersby, whom they’ve already met numerous times; at these events, everyone seems to know one another, even if they’re based on different sides of the globe.
The rare book world, in general, just does not come off as the most welcoming place for newcomers. Or for anyone under the age of 35. Or for anyone who is not dressed appropriately. Et cetera. Yes, things are changing, but the gentleman’s club mentality of many booksellers remains strong.
So, dear readers, I have decided to try to lull y’all out of the idea that a solid book collection is an inaccessible goal. I’m going to do this by offering some tips on how to start book collecting. And, to spice things up, I’m going to illustrate my points à la BuzzFeed, with GIFs of some of my favourite things: drag queens.*
Read on, dahling.