Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Did you know I'm on Twitter? Do you follow me there?  I love Twitter.  I have a nice list of bibliofolk as well.  Check it out!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Protect Your Books (and Your Marriage) with Proper Shelving

Another guest post from me has appeared over at the GoneReading Blog.  Check it out!

Protect Your Books Through Proper Shelving Techniques

I’m the first to admit, I don’t care for all of my books equally.  But I own books that are precious to me, requiring better care.  Caring for your books begins with your eyes.  Look at them closely, carefully– especially books you’ve had for a long time.  Do boards on any of your hardcovers bow?  Does each book sit square?  Are the heads of the spines busted?  Have you gouged your gauffered edges?  These injuries are symptoms of inadequate storage.
When caring for your books, the basics begin with shelving.  No matter how much you love your books, you aren’t reading all of them at once, right?  Books spend most of their time on the shelf, so shelving them with an eye toward care can go a long way.
Don’t tell my wife, but her preference for shelving books upright by height with total disregard for subject matter or author is actually best for long-term book care.  I, on the other hand, prefer to shelve non-fiction books by chronological subject matter and fiction by author’s national origin and life chronology.
That’s also why we’ve been happily married for nearly a decade: We don’t mix our books.  Shelved by height, books support each other.  Huge books, often atlases or enormous art books, are best laid down and stacked pyramid style, biggest on bottom.  Over time, the slick, high quality paper in these books is so heavy it will damage the binding if left upright.

Snug, Not Tight

Books like to be held snug, but not tight.  If you’ve ever busted the head of the spine of a dust-jacket or hardcover book removing it from a shelf, you know you’re packing them in too tight.  Packing them too tightly can also cause the boards of hardcover books to bow inward over a long period of time.
But there are also dangers with shelving books to loosely.  Boards will warp outward under the weight of the pages when left unsupported.  The spine will also splay loose at the top in early stages. This can also happen when taller books are shelved tightly amongst smaller brethren.  The solution: Use bookends to maintain snugness.
Like I said, I certainly don’t treat all of my books this well.  But the books I really love deserve my full attention.  I try for a happy medium, sometimes making choices for the best of the book, sometimes adhering to my impeccable scheme.  Occasionally a little compromise works best.  That’s the best bet to save your books, as well as your marriage.
For more on the subject of book collecting, the anatomy of books and proper shelving techniques, Benjamin recommends this helpful PDF: ABC For Book Collectors

Friday, November 11, 2011

Exile Bibliophile the Tumblr Edition

I've started an Exile Bibliophile tumblr edition, in hopes to lay groundwork for a podcast.  So, I'll have fewer of the posts like the previous here, but even more bibliophilic content in general.  You can find it here:  The tumblr will NOT replace or likely displace any posts here.  It'll be business as usual on the blog, but even more goodies here:  So, check it out already!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

...out of the window

A gentle introduction to the gentle madness

This week, I have the pleasure of guest blogging over at GoneReading, a site for people who love books. I've especially enjoyed the series A Dude Reads Jane Austen. Also, GoneReading has a great store with bookish gifts and things and proceeds support libraries and literacy. Pretty great stuff.

So, here it is:

It’s interesting so many people love books, but so few people claim to be book collectors.  Is it because it sounds like claiming to be a breeder of polo ponies?  Perhaps.

I collect books.  I do not own a yacht.  I’m not embarrassed by either fact.  I even seek out others who collect books too, so maybe we can be friends.  (The Mrs. says I need people-friends too, not just book-friends.)  In my quest to find kindred collectors of books, I’ve found quite a few proto-collectors.  Proto-collectors are people who are very nearly collecting but can’t quite claim full book collector status for themselves.  They seem to be charmingly unaware how a quest has come upon them, consuming money, energy, and precious time-- but still they claim to not be book collectors.  I’m the first to admit, it’s hard to say when exuberant Bibliophilia become full-blown Bibliomania.  But the first step is certainly to admit there are stronger forces at work than the love of a tale well told.  

Not everyone who owns a lot of books is a book collector.  Granted.  I wear pants most days, and own many pairs, yet don’t think of myself as a pants connoisseur.  Book collectors are the same way.  A book collection has a purpose beyond accumulating, beyond, even, reading.  A book collection has a purpose.  What should the focus be?  That’s the beauty of it.  It can be anything.  Anything at all.  And though book collectors have been carefully forming collections for centuries, the most interesting book collections are yet to be formed.

Collections often focus on a particular author, a particular illustrator, publisher, series, a style of bookbinding, a particular subject (like books of made-up words, or pants-wearing polo ponies).  Not long ago a short article was circulating about a collector of books that use human blood in their production or signed in the stuff.  I was surprised at the variety of books that fit into the collection.  Another great way to see what’s new in collecting is to review the entries for the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest sponsored by the ABAA (The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America).  Nearly all of these entries demonstrate what amazing collections can be assembled on a college student’s budget.  

Another thing to do is get to know other collectors.  They may not be on your street, or at your 8-to-5, but there’s a big beautiful blogosphere pulsing with the thoughts and purchases of serious bibliophiles.  I have over 250 blogs in my RSS reader dedicated to bibliophilia, and I know I don’t follow everyone.  I’m constantly finding new ones.  And people find me through my own blog.  There are also several clubs, societies, and other organizations for book collectors, many of which can be found at the website of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies.  There may also be sites dedicated to your preferred objects of book love-- a great example is Collecting the Modern Library, a site dedicated to the Modern Library series of 1917-1970, compiled by collectors over many years and still growing.  I wish there were many more like it.

If you love books, you’ve likely heard booksellers bemoan the unliterate age of the e-panopticon we live in today.  Publishers are even worse.  The moaning has its merits, but the moaners are overreacting.  Historically, booksellers considered the end of books with the emergence of radio and television too.  The great thing about the internet is it has largely removed one of the biggest barriers of book lovers: geography.  Historically, book collecting has largely been a past-time for urbanites, but that is no longer true.  The internet has also caused what were once thought to be rare books into a wider market place to be outed as actually fairly common.  But books are finite, and I think we’re currently living in what will be “the good ol’ days” of book collecting.  A time we’ll look back on fondly when nearly everything was available and most of it cheap.

There is still frontiers to be explored and treasures to be found in book collecting.