I have a lot of books – hundreds certainly, maybe 3 or 4,000 books. They sit in 15 double-shelved bookcases around my house, well cared for, and (at least partly) read (I begin virtually all of my books but have cast many aside – a casual view of If on a winter’s night a traveller pretty much sums up my weekly reading – a dozen opening chapters).
A quick browse of ABEBooks tonight has left me worried that I am perhaps not looking after some of my books well enough as I discovered that various copies of Scottish novels bought when I was a student are worth not just tens but hundreds of pounds (as a student I often spent my evenings at author events celebrating the launch of new Scottish novels: I toured central Scotland attending these things because I was (and am) an enthusiast). I also tended to buy on the day of publication and was aware that I acquired a couple of controversial little collections before they were recalled and subsequently pulped prior to mass reprinting.
Discovering that books are worth flipping great wadges of cash makes me feel a bit uneasy. I like the feel, the smell, the look of a book, of an old book in particular – and you can multiply this where there is a room filled with them. But it’s the content that matters not the fact that one printing sees a dedication amended from the previous (divorce or separation can have that impact on writers).