I collect vintage hardback books anywhere that dealers have given up. I am interested in the ones they think they can’t sell, which, if you’ve tried to sell you books to a dealer, you know is true of most books. The scarce resource is not old books; it is the reader’s attention.

jmr-200x300Better sources include recycling centers, thrift stores and fundraisers. People bring me books. Libraries discard them. Yet very few books are of any use to me. Keep in mind that I already rent space to store a collection of 5,000 books, gathered over 10 years, so anything I add has to be better than what I already have.

It’s first a visual problem: if I don’t like the font, the fabric, the contrast of the title, the imagery, then I don’t even read its title. So I will never consider the vast bulk simply because of their appearance.

Of those that pass my visual filter, only a few have titles I can make use of. Funny but ugly I can’t use. Gorgeous but obscure; what I am I going to do with it?  I do collect some for appearance alone, notably sets of vintage encyclopedias for my bookcases. Again, I have to be fussy about what I collect.

No books that could change the course of world events are harmed in the production of this artwork.

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