Everyone knows how much I love books, but I wouldn’t consider myself a “collector” in the sense that I search for specialty editions, or have a preference for certain bindings, or hunger after antique books. And I must admit that I’m a bit haphazard in the care of my books, for I tend to pile them up wherever there’s room since they long ago outnumbered the available shelf space.
However, I get a little thrill from owning a book signed by the author, particularly if it’s been inscribed just to me. A bit of hero worship at play here, I suppose, something akin to those feelings I had for the 8 x 10 autographed glossy of Donny Osmond which hung in my junior high locker. My interest in autographed books began about the same time as my interest in Donny Osmond (which, by the way, is over and done with). Here’s how it happened: Arthur Hailey, the author of Roots and a number of other bestsellers in the 70’s, was in Detroit promoting his new book about the auto industry. Unbeknownst to me, my dad went to the book signing, stood in line, and had Mr. Hailey autograph a book for me. It was the incription that touched me: “For Rebecca,” he wrote, in surprisingly legible handwriting. “Best of luck with your own writing!”
Now wasn’t that something? Writing that message to me, as if we were compatriots in the work of putting words on the page?
As time passed, I realized that ever more touching than the inscription was the fact that my father recognized my writing dreams and acknowledged their importance in my life.
That one book became very important to me, and has remained in my “collection” for the past 40 years. Even today, in the conglomeration of books scattered about my house, I can tell you exactly where it is. <smiles>
Now tell me, what makes a book “collectible” for you?