I've been a reader and book-lover for my entire life. I read at the breakfast table, I read in traffic, I read when I brush my teeth. I've been known to dog ear a page so that I can find it more easily later, or to splay a book on the coffee table when no bookmark is at hand. All of these are practices I will need to set aside should I attempt to move into the realm of serious book collecting. Ian C. Ellis' delightful, informative, and eye-opening Book Finds--subtitled How to Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books-- takes the reader and prospective collector into this sometimes rarified world and through the process, in glorious detail. Beginning with some basic definitions ("Reading copies are books you can take to the beach or into the bathtub") and rules (Rule One: Specialization, Rule Two: Condition), Ellis moves on to a brief history of the book and dissects the book's anatomy. And then he gets into the juicy stuff: how to scout, what to look for, how to trade and deal, how to hone your eye and instincts so that you know when you've found a treasure.
Ellis' book is chatty, full of anecdotes, stories about the big find and the one that got away. It is both inspiring--I can do this! I know enough about what's good and important and about what people are interested in to make this work!--and sobering--who am I kidding? do I really think I can find that one amazing book that everyone else has missed, let alone do it over and over and make a living from it? Most of all, though, Book Finds is packed with good, basic information for the beginning book collector.