Eilfie Feature Starting Your Paranormal Book Collection

By Eilfie Muisc

The Elm Library

One of the main things that I often talk about when it comes to hobbies and interests is my love of collecting books. Amongst the various subjects that are stacked upon my shelves, the paranormal, occult, and pagan subjects dominate in both old and new tomes. In contrast, digital books can be downloaded on iPads, Nooks, and Kindle and can hold three times as many books as I have. Both the independent bookstores and the chains are being affected by this new technology that, on one hand, makes it easy to travel without ten books shoved into a bag, but you also lose the joy of holding a book and turning the pages. Now granted, I have a small collection of digital books as well due to friends and Google books, but nothing can beat the smell of an old book.

Along with iPads, Nooks, and Kindles, the internet has become a dominant source for research in almost anything you can think of. Even with these digital resources, people still have a love for collecting books and using them as a research tool. PRS’s own collection of books started off as a small shelf of about twelve books in a cubicle. It has now grown to about four hundred books that range from recently published authors to old journals from the 1880’s. This collection is still a work in progress and is a work of love that has grown over the last ten years.

For anyone who wants to start their own book collection on the paranormal (which is a wide range of subjects) or focus more on a particular topics such as vampires and UFOs, there is a place to start without becoming overwhelmed. This is not always a quick thing to gain—it all depends on luck and keeping a close eye out for the books you want. Collecting these books for yourself or for your group is often an adventure in finding the books. Then when you have them finally on your shelf, the adventure is also in keeping track of what books you have once you amassed a reasonable collection.

When you are starting out, some of the easiest resources for finding books are on the net. This is, of course, such sites as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, Powells, and Borders. Many sell both new and used books, though it does take some searching depending on what you are looking for. These sources are also useful for finding rare books at various prices, but also seeing the reviews on the books you’re considering and to determine if they are worth having. Another good resource to go through a book before you actually purchase it is Google books. Depending on the copyright of the books, Google will often allow you to read sample pages of the book; Amazon does this as well depending on the book. These sites will also give you an idea of what you are looking for when you go out in the field searching for books; and that’s where the fun begins.

Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon (www.powells.com)

The mortar and brick bookshops seem to be a dying industry since it is a niche market that can often become even more particular depending on the store. Some shops strictly sell new books, while others do both new and used books. Some of the stores cater to a particular subject or just deal with rare books in general. So when you start your hunt for books in the field, you want to first figure out where to go instead of going in completely cold. When I first started to collect books on the paranormal, I was amazingly blessed with a small down town used/new bookstore called Webster’s. This was a small shop that also had a café and would feature a local artist each month.  Webster’s would buy used books from people and then give them store credit, depending on the value and condition of book(s). The shop was sectioned off by both fiction and nonfiction and then alphabetized by Author’s last name. This, at times, came in handy if I knew what author I was looking for, but most of the time I was hunting from one shelf to the next in the new age section and well into the religious section. This would be how my weekends and weekdays were spent when I was not working. Since I was going to this shop often enough, I had a better chance to find the good books before anyone else. So when you start, check to see if your area has any local bookstores. This becomes beneficial if you can find one locally and can go there often compared to traveling long distances out of town. This also allows you to become familiar with the people working at the shop who can help you in your search. If you build up a good rapport with the owner or the regular employees, they might set aside books they know you have an interest in. This also helps the small brick and mortar businesses stay in business.

If you want to go beyond your town, this becomes a good weekend trip, especially if you plan to hit up multiple shops or even book sales. The best times for this are during the warming seasons such as spring, summer, and going into fall. It is best to set aside both a budget for how much you are willing to spend on books, and then a budget on general travel costs such as food, gas, and lodging. Another good thing to bring along on this weekend excursion (other then a decent size trunk) is a wish list of the books you know for sure you want to find. This helps for when you are thrown into the midst of boxes upon boxes of books and your brain decides to blank out on what you want to find. It helps you spend more wisely on the books you want for sure compared to just grabbing any book.

When you have acquired a nice size collection, the process of keeping track of what you have at times can become overwhelming. This is especially true when you forgot if you have a certain book on one of your hunts. There are sites that allow you to not only upload your personal library into an account, but also can give you detailed information on the site, reviews, and even recommend similar titles to further your collection. Some of these sites are either a subscription or a one-time purchase.

Though I will admit I do have a slight obsession with owning and collecting books, I do also know that it is not always the quantity of books, but the quality of books you have and how you use them. You can have hundreds of books, but use none, and then they are just a bunch of paper decoration taking up space.

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