Seeing as I set up an instagram account devoted to my ever growing home library, I’m sure you can imagine that I’m pretty bloody proud of my collection. I often get asked about where I get my books so I thought I would dedicate my first blog post in a while to exactly that.
I feel like books as a business had a bit of a rough time in the early Noughties when they faced some serious competition from those magical little tablets known as ereaders. I am a huge kindle fan and have upgraded every couple of years since my mum gave me her old one a decade ago, when I went off to start a new life in Germany with nothing but a suitcase and no room in the luggage allowance for books. I currently use a kindle oasis which I adore and would not let you prize from my cold, dead hands. Instantly being able to download a book that I don’t want to wait for, only having to pay a quid or two for a book that I know I will only read once, not having to suffer hand cramp when tackling an epic fantasy, being able to read in blinding sunlight or in the dead of night and the feeling of knowing that that small device in your handbag is a portal to millions of worlds waiting to be discovered are all reading luxuries that I absolutely could not be without now.
As far as I’m concerned though, there is no feeling on this weird and wonderful planet that can compare to holding a physical book in my hands. The woody smell, the comforting weight, the beautiful covers and, something that has taken off in recent years, sprayed edges. The more luxuriously a book has been made, the more magical the reading experience for me.
In the last couple of years and especially since I built myself my very own library, I have really started taking book collecting seriously. I try and learn as much as I can about it and have discovered that it is quite an art. I’ve read incredible stories of a book lover picking up a debut author on a whim and then realising ten years later that it turned into a multi million best seller and they are sitting on a pretty little fortune.
None of us know when the next book phenomenon will occur, but I know that I want to be on that train when it departs and I’m going to share all my book shopping tips with you so you can join me for the ride.
Definitely one of my favourite ways to get my hands on gorgeous editions, Illumicrate is a monthly fantasy subscription service that give the option of book only subscriptions or full boxes which include 4-6 specially curated bookish items, the theme changing each month. The books are newly released and signed special editions.
The real draw for Illumicrate though is their exclusives sales where they often release adult fantasy editions. As a subscriber you have early access to these sales but they usually have pretty good stock and each time I’ve attempted its been a relatively smooth experience. Before I was a subscriber I was able to purchase an absolutely stunning set of Naomi Novik’s books and a gorgeous edition of The Last Wish from The Witcher series which are definitely some of the best looking books I own. (Just checked and both still in stock. )
Similar to Illumicrate, Fairyloot is a monthly box but they unfortunately do not offer a book only subscription. Ive been subscribed to them for around two years and their editions always blow me away because they are absolutely stunning. They tend to be more younger adult fantasy and I’ve found recently that I rarely want to read the books so I will probably stop subscribing soon but I would definitely recommend them if that’s your genre. The items can be hit or miss, a lot of it is stuff that I just have sat in a drawer but every now and again there will be something really worthwhile.
Fairyloot also do special edition sales but these are usually pretty stressful. Often selling out on the early access day if its a popular author or series with subscribers having to dedicate hours to battling their way through crashing websites. They have stated several times that they are hoping to resolve this so fingers crossed there’s smooth sailing from now.
Folio Society is huge for book collectors. I am in several resell groups on Facebook and their values hold very well with serious book dealers able to make a tidy profit from immaculate condition out of prints.
I only have a couple of their editions but my Folio Howls Moving Castle slipcase edition is undoubtedly one of the most stunning I own and one that I find myself constantly taking down from the shelf to admire. If I ever have to find a gift for a book lover I am straight onto their website to find them something special. I did this for all of the readers in my family for Christmas and each one was stunning.
Goldsboro specialise in signed first edition books. I ordered a few books from them a few months ago and was so impressed by the quality and care that I decided to join the two subscriptions they offer. PREM1ER, which cherry picks from a variety of new releases each month and GSFF which is their Science Fiction and Fantasy offering.
Out of all the book subscriptions around I feel that Goldsboro are the best to invest your money in as a collector. Each of the books I have received have gone on to be hugely popular and you can tell they really know their stuff as lovers of books themselves. Im always so impressed when I receive their parcels as the books are immensely well packaged and wrapped in plastic for protection.
I live on a small Island with barely a handful of decent shops in our main town and I have been visiting Waterstones for as long as I can remember. Although it was Ottakars back when I was little. It holds a very special place in my heart as I have vivid memories of going in with my Mum to collect the first Harry Potter or the latest Jacqueline Wilson, back in the days when I just used to read the same books over and over and getting a new one as a treat was beyond exciting.
Waterstones often do exclusive signed hardback editions for new releases and if I’m pre ordering for some of my highly anticipated books of the year, this is my first call. If you’re not a Plus member go straight to their website now and sign up. The double stamps events they do, which has been quite often lately, are incredible and offer the chance to get a lot of money back on the books you’re purchasing, to spend on more books, obviously.
Local Independent Bookshops/ Bookshop.org
Do you know where all your local independent bookshops are? I would google every now and again because sometimes they don’t get the publicity they deserve and really do rely on word of mouth. I found my favourite local book shop thankfully due to Bookstagram and I love popping in there. The staff are so warm, welcoming and knowledgeable and they often do bloody good discounts on their books.
My favourite thing about local bookshops is that they support local authors, giving you the chance to discover incredible books from writers in your area. Usually signed too.
bookshop.org is a really important website that supports these bookshops, you can order books through that site, from your local independent and have the books delivered directly to you. You’re helping to keep wonderful booksellers in their jobs, the gorgeous little shops open and the money out of Amazons pockets.
If you’re not visiting charity shops every time you head into town to check the book sections you’re missing out on some serious treasure. I don’t think I’ve ever had a shopping trip where I haven’t come out absolutely chuffed with at least one purchase. Recently I picked up gorgeous editions of the Farseer Trilogy. This was before I had read them so didn’t know what a huge impact they would have on me but I will treasure them forever and they cost me a couple of quid.
eBay can be a bit hit and miss but my advice would be to do your research into how much a book is worth and never pay over unless its an all time favourite that you’re going to hold dear to you for the rest of your life. Ive spent a fair bit on signed out of print editions on eBay but I’ve lost out to many because I would never bid over the current value.
Honestly just be on the quest for books everywhere you go. I got a stunning set of V&A classics from Aldi before Christmasand I’ve found gorgeous hardbacks in Tescos. Pubs and cafes often have second hand shelves with honesty boxes and people are forever selling and getting rid of books on Facebook. Forbidden Planet is another one that does some pretty cool editions but I won’t use them again after bad experiences in the past.
My absolute biggest tip, would be to sign up to the newsletters for all of the above so that you know exactly what’s coming out and when. Books are selling out faster than ever and if you don’t want to pay over the odds for the chance to have a signed hardback from one of your favourite authors you need to be organised about it.
Please message me if you have any questions and let me know if you think I’ve missed anywhere 🙂