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The advantages & disadvantages of collecting strategies
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Collecting Strategiesby Roger Gozdecki
The least time-consuming, easiest way to plan and focus a collection- i.e. acquire all the first editions and ephemeral items by an author that you especially enjoy, along with any biographies, and critical studies about them.
Any author's popularity is likely to be short-lived and subject to the changing whims of public opinion (think John Galsworthy), and the popularity of the most recent film adaptation based upon the writer's work. Due to the enormous popularity of the Academy Award-winning film Forest Gump, first editions of the Winston Groom novel were selling for around $300 in 1994, about twice as much as they bring today.
The intrinsic appeal of almost any interesting subject matter never goes out of fashion. Well-constructed subject collections are likely to have the most potential for long-term use as a valuable resource for researchers and scholars.
Big, broad topics can be especially difficult to focus. A good single subject collection requires a collector to invest more time than money, in order to become a real expert on the subject and learn the merits of the significant books in the field.
By focusing on first editions of the most significant and representative works in a field or historic period, high spot collectors generally acquire the most coveted books, which dollar-for-dollar are likely to have the highest value over time. High spots can often appreciate dramatically in a short period, especially if the subject matter, like golf books for example, experiences a sudden increase in popularity.
In the absence of any reference material or bibliographic aids, high spot collectors will have to determine themselves which books are the genuinely outstanding works in their field. Most novice collectors lack the expertise to make those sorts of judgments, not to mention the time and patience necessary to acquire it.
By trying to acquire copies of every edition of every book in a chosen field, or by a favorite author, completist collectors can look forward to years and years of collecting pleasure. Completist collections have great potential to become valuable research archives and are often highly coveted by major university libraries.
The completist faces a never-ending challenge to track down new material and acquire it. Many novices are likely to lose their enthusiasm for building a completist collection once they understand the enormity of the challenge, and consequently will be left with many secondary books that have only marginal appeal to more general collectors. Don't become a completist collector, unless you're committed to staying with it till the bitter end!