When I search for some of the books I want to read, they're rare enough that I can't be too picky about which edition they are; I take what I can get. For the most part, that doesn't bother me in the slightest. I'm a reader, not a collector. Since I no longer keep most of the fiction I read, I'd prefer that they were all paperbacks because paperbacks are cheaper to mail when you're a member of Paperback Swap. But once again, the bottom line is that I want to read the book, so I don't care if it's hardcover or paperback!
- Hardcover? Or paperback?
- Illustrations? Or just text?
- First editions? Or you don’t care?
- Signed by the author? Or not?
When reading fiction, unless it's KidLit, I'd rather see no illustrations because I prefer my own mental ones. KidLit is different; however, because illustrations can be a major part of the book. Illustrations can also be an integral part of non-fiction as well. If I'm reading a biography, I do like seeing photos of the person. Art books are nothing without examples of the art being discussed, and if I have a book in which travel plays a large part, maps are very nice! Yes or no to illustrations all depends on the type of information being imparted.
Since I've already stated that I'm a reader, not a collector, I could care less if my book is a first edition. I do have some firsts, but I normally don't think of them as any more special than the rest of the books in my library. The only exceptions to that are the first editions I have of novels written by Dora Aydelotte, a woman who lived in and wrote about the small farm town in which I grew up, and the signed, numbered edition of a book featuring the art of Richard Stone Reeves. Reeves is a pre-eminent artist who's painted many of the most famous race horses in the world, and I've seen some of those horses. In both instances, I have a very personal connection with the books.
Authors' signatures don't mean all that much to me either. They might if I made an effort to go to author signings, but the vast majority of signings clash with my work schedule, so I can't go.
I guess you could say that, unless I have a very special connection with a book, I'm a reader-- not a collector. The words on the page are much more important to me than print runs, bindings, or signatures. I do know people who collect certain types of books, and I do enjoy the way their faces become luminous when they tell me about their treasures, so I understand the allure.
What about you? Do you collect certain types of books, or are you primarily a reader like I am? Share your stories!