Why Collect Dog Books?

Do friends come for a visit and have to remove both dogs and books from your couch before they can sit down? Does every flat surface, and some of the floor, have stacks of books? Is "build more bookcases" always at the top of your to-do list? Then, you might just be a book collector.

Sooner or later, friends or relatives are going to glance around at all the books in your house or apartment and ask: WHY? Why buy all these books when you can get them for free at the library? With all the ebooks on the internet, why would you spend your money on actual books? Haven't you heard of Kindle or the other readers which can hold tons of books without the need for shelves? Why would you spend all the time and money searching for books?

I'm sure there are as many answers out there as there are collectors. I certainly don't presume to speak with any great authority on the subject, but I'll give you my 10 reasons for collecting dog books.
1. It's fun! Whether it's traipsing through old bookstores, rooting through piles of books at yard sales, browsing the shelves at thrift stores or hunting for the book sections at antique malls, I'm addicted to the chase. It's the hunt..the quest..that can be truly intoxicating. And now, with the internet, I can search from my home in my pajamas during the wee hours of the morning. Poring bleary eyed through seemingly endless listings of dog books and then, voila, I spot it! There is that hidden treasure lurking among the mundane offerings and I pounce, doing a "happy dance" at the gem I've found.
2. There are still fabulous deals out there to be found. Even seasoned book dealers can't be experts in all areas of book collecting. While most full time booksellers know the price of first editions of Hemingway or Faulkner, they probably don't know which are the rarest of the dog books and what value is proper. I can't begin to count the number of times I have gone into antiquarian bookstores, where high priced volumes abound, and discovered for a few dollars dog books which should be priced at $100 or more.

3. You can learn as you go. You don't need a college degree or any great expertise to begin successfully collecting dog books.


4. You don't have to be rich. While some books do sell for hundreds of dollars or even more, you can amass quite a collection with just a modest investment.

5. I'm a reader and I love books. While I do spend countless hours reading on the internet and I love Google Books, there are plenty of times when I just want a book in my hands and the computer won't do. On a chilly winter night, I love to curl up in a comfy chair, a cup of hot chocolate on the coffee table, feel the warmth of the fireplace and read a good dog book.
6. I love dog book authors, old and new. It thrills me to read the work of the old masters or discover a new talent. Can't you just picture Albert Payson Terhune, several Sunnybank Collies at his feet, as he pounds the keys of his old manual typewriter to produce the latest adventure story? I can recall my excitement, several years ago, when I read my first Bloodhound mystery penned by Virginia Lanier. I marched to the bookstore the next day to buy the other books in the series.

7. I love dog art. I may never be able to afford the thousands of dollars that it takes to collect dog paintings, but I can own books which collect these extraordinary works of art.

8. I love the book as an art form. This is particularly true of some of the ornately produced works from the 1800s. Whether it's the feel of old leather or the gilt decorations etched on covers, I like holding these objects of the craft of books in my hands.

9. I love dog books as pieces of history. Not only are they time capsules of the history of dogs and different breeds, but they have individual histories of their own. Have you ever wondered about the pedigree of your dog books? Where they have been and what they have seen? Were they used as reference by some committee deciding on the proper wording for some breed standard? Were they sitting on some shelf in a Victorian library while early breeders gossiped about the latest winners? Did some first-time breeder clutch a volume giving whelping instructions as she played midwife to a newly emerging litter than contained a number of champions? If you press your nose to the pages can you smell the remnants of a meerschaum pipe or the cigarette smoke of some 1920s flapper?

10 As an investment. I put this last because I really don't think it's the reason most people begin collecting. I'm convinced that there will always be a market for great dog books, be they old classics or some new ones printed in smaller press runs. You have the opportunity to enjoy your treasures and then, when you are ready to part with them, they will repay all your efforts and more.

And, did I mention it: IT'S FUN!!!

PS The doggy icons are copyright Phelios (