Now, if you are new to the wonderful world of books but would like to start collecting, there are a few different ways to go about this first step to book ownership. What a lot of people will do, is they will first read the books through their local public libraries and then decide which books they desire to own. This will leave no room for regretful decisions later on, and money thrown down into a rat hole. This was how my first book collection came to be as a child, and later teenager. Only my absolute favorite books were owned and cherished. But if you are more like the me that I am now, then you may prefer to first own, and then later read your books. Now, I am comfortable with this method because I own ninety eight percent classic literature. Of all of the classics that I have currently owned, and read to date, I have only disliked one (I hated that one with a passion - The Catcher in the Rye). Chances are that I will dislike more of the classics as I continue to read them, but up till now my success rates have been very high (Don't give up on the classics however, if you happened to read one that you did not enjoy. They are not all alike). If you opt to go this route, I suggest that you buy your books second hand. It will save you a lot of money, and if you dislike any, you didn't sink as much money into them as you would have if you had purchased them new. Go to local, privately owned second hand book stores, and even second hand book stores such as Half Price Books. You can find some very nice books through these sources for very decent prices.
Do you want to own paperbacks, hardcovers, or leather bound and/or cloth bound editions? Paperbacks are by far the cheapest books to purchase, and they do make some lovely paperback editions. A lot of people really like paperbacks, but not me. I would suggest that if you have not first read the book before the time of purchase, that purchasing a paperback would be the better option, because you very well might not even enjoy said book, and then you didn't loose a lot of money on that purchase. But if you highly enjoy the book, and would later like to replace it with a finer edition, it might become expensive to buy that title twice. So you really need to make some personal choices here. Read first before purchasing, then buy the edition that you most prefer, or read as you buy, opting for cheaper editions. If buying second hand however, you very well may be able to get hardcovers for the same price as a paperback.
You can always start on the smaller side of the scale when it comes to the quality of books, and upgrade as you go. When I first started to collect books I had a mix of paperback and hardcovers, none of them very impressive editions. I have owned books my entire life, but started to collect books within the last three or four years. I was seeking to not only add more titles to my library, but to also upgrade my favorite titles. But this can be a great deal more expensive then just buying the ultimate edition that you desire from the get go. I learned this the hard way. You really need to bring your personal choices into these decisions. My favorite book editions are Easton Press (leather bound), The Franklin Library (leather bound), and Folio Society (cloth bound). I am slowly trying to replace my favorite books with these editions. You can buy them new, or you can buy them used. To be honest, I would never buy these editions new unless I could not find a certain title second hand. You can find them so much cheaper second hand. I find them through my local Half Price Books, and I have also recently found some wonderful finds through e-bay (although I think that this is just fueling my addiction). If leather bound, or cloth bound books are something that interest you, I recommend that you look second hand. A lot of my finely crafted books cost no more then a new everyday hardcover book.
One book that I would recommend to people who not only want to own classics, but would also like to own some pretty leather bound editions, are the Barnes and Noble collectible leather bound editions. These are beautiful books for very reasonable prices. I collect these editions, and they consist of a large portion of my collection. They are a great way to get the classics in a pretty edition, without breaking the bank.
Remember, collecting is a slow, time consuming process. It's not going to happen overnight, and there really is no rush in doing it. I have been collecting for many years now, and my personal library is still rather modest. And don't own books just for the sake of owning books. I am actually really picky about which books and which titles make it into my collection. Do you really want to read this book is the ultimate question that you should ask yourself.