May 4, 2010

Is Book Collecting a Dying Hobby?

That's the 64 million dollar question that's being asked by bibliophiles everywhere. Oh, it won't happen next month or next year, but perhaps at some point in the next decade, the question may become fully answered.

I had posted earlier on this but just discovered this recent essay that again discusses this very issue. A lot depends on how you view books in general. If you view a book as nothing more than a data repository, then one day Google Print will probably become all you need. On the other hand, if you view books as tangible, desirable artifacts that have an intrinsic value beyond mere words on a page, then they'll probably always hold a soft spot in one's psyche.

The jury is still out, but if and when the day comes that we start seeing an across the board decrease in collectible book prices, we'll then have our answer.

"I’m a book collector and I know a treasure when I see one. This book will be on my shelves until I die. Until recently we could say with complete confidence that it would then pass safely into the hands of another collector but unfortunately I’m not so sure. I love old books, and so do you, but the cosy old world of cosy old books is heading for a showdown, a title fight to the death that has already begun. A slick silicon upstart with warm electric blood is gunning for books and if it wins the war our lives will never be the same again. The story now is not bits from a bookshop; it’s bits from a computer, the bits and bytes that might well kill paper books forever."


Ron said...

I just discovered your blog and find it extemely interesting and useful. I certainly hope that book collecting is not a dying hobby! I am not yet 40 and am an avid collector of Civil War books. I also have many friends in the same age bracket or younger who also appreciate old first editions!

I have added your blog to my blogroll. I also wanted to pass along this link to a post I did recently on building a Civil War library.

Ron Baumgarten
McLean, VA

Drew said...

I've been wondering this same question for a few years. To me a book represents knowledge and learning. I've got a kindle and I do most of my reading on it nowadays, but I still look fondly on my rows of bookshelves and I still spend hours at the university library, because when I'm surrounded by books, I get a real feeling of nostalgia and respect and I'm inspired by the idea that I'm surrounded by real artifacts of knowledge. Book reading may become a dying hobby, but book collecting will (I hope) never die.