Building a Home Library: For Serious Book Buyers Only

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What is the difference between casual and serious book buying?  Consider the following: Have you exhausted the obvious resources for finding books and are still looking for more?  Do you have a monthly budget dedicated to purchasing books?  Do you scan auctions and estate sales for mentions of lots or pallets of books? Do you have a dedicated book gifting room for your surplus books? The last one might be taking things to another level, closer to a bibliophile nirvana, but we think you get the idea.

When Jandee participated in our Reading With series last month, she sent some photos of her impressive home library that we've been excited to share with you. The day has come and if it's possible, we are even more excited to share her tips on how she's built her inspiring home library. At our request, Jandee provided us with an amazing reference guide for book buying, we've dubbed it the The Serious Book Buying Guide

Without further ado, we present:

Tip #1 
Don't buy it if it's not pretty. 
As William Morris said, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Books are definitely useful, but they are even more useful when they are beautiful.  You are more likely to display them in a prominent place and you are more likely to pick them up and read them. 

Tip #2 
Budget a monthly amount to spend on books.
Most months Jandee budgets about $100 to spend on books.  Some months she buys only used books for .01 plus shipping on Amazon and ends up getting about twenty books.  Or some months she invests in some new books and ends up with only six to ten books.

Tip #3 
Figure out what types of books you want to own.  
Determine your own personal hierarchy of interests to help guide your purchasing (e.g., children's, then classics, sci-fi, art books)

Tip #4 
Keep a list!
An Amazon wish list is an amazing way to keep track of titles you may be interested in, whether you decide to purchase them later or check them out at the library.

Tip #5 
Research a book before you buy it.
Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, even Wikipedia all have book reviews to help guide your purchase.  And, as an added bonus, Amazon will generate suggestions based off of your search.

Tip #6 

Identify standards for what you'll add to your home library.
For example, you may want to consider purchasing only hardback books because they a) look better, b) are more durable, and c) retain their value in case you decide to resell them. Also consider setting price limits. (Jandee rarely pays more than $5 for a book, often purchasing books from private sellers selling used books through Amazon.)

Tip #7
Be creative
  • Check the classifieds, sometimes sellers offer large quantities of books for a single price
  • Look for estate sales that advertise books
  • Buy pallets of discarded school library books, yes we said pallets. All it takes is a single phone call to a school district office to see if this is an option in your area

Purchasing Tips:
  • Only buy books from sellers with positive reviews and more than 1,500 transactions
  • Play close attention to the description of the book, usually only purchase 'good' or 'better'
  • Plan on slow shipping
  • Know what a book is worth before you start shopping, especially with vintage books.  Old doesn't necessarily mean valuable and, therefore, expensive
  • Many larger sellers have their own websites and a large inventory, don't limit yourself to Amazon 
Moving beyond Amazon:
Book Outlet
Betterworld Books
Abe Books
Go Hastings
Book Depository (UK seller with free shipping to the US)
Wordery (another UK seller)

All photos by Jandee

For more of Jandee's musings checkout her blog.


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