A neighbor asked me the other day why I collect Civil War first editions as opposed to a simple (and presumed cheaper) reprint. After all, he wondered, aren’t the words and information the same? His question was reflective of an age-old debate that has no right or wrong perspective. It is somewhat difficult, perhaps, for a “collector” to explain (justify?) his/her passion to a non-collector. I don’t think that I’ve ever been able to really convey my interest to those close to me, other than to say that for collectors, a book holds an intrinsic and magnetic interest as a physical artifact. It is much more than a collection of words and ideas. I came across this great article on the internet that explores our passion. You can check it out in two parts here and here.
It is more than a mere delivery method for the thoughts and ideas contained within, for as the article points out, to non-collectors “the physical book is nothing more than a reader’s fast food wrapper.” And as the second part illustrates, buying Civil War first editions always gives the buyer an opportunity to recoup his expenditures down the road. If you’re buying reprints, it’s likely you’ll never recover your costs.