The Value of an Unread Book

Something occurred to me today.

I can understand collecting pristine, unused stamps — keeping them safe, away from light, and only looking at them now and then.

And I can understand collecting postcards which have never been sent, never manhandled or crushed or stained in the mail.

I can even understand keeping collectible action figures in their original, unopened packages. (My Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde action figures are still in theirs, though I have very nearly decided to let them free so they can run about the house and nibble on erasers and whatever else unsupervised action figures do…)

But for some reason, I am quite disturbed by the thought of books remaining untouched and unread so that they keep their value.

To me, an antique book with pages that have never been cut, and must never be cut (to keep the value high), is like a bottle of fine wine which is kept so long it spoils. It just seems wrong.

I’m not certain if there’s a logic behind this feeling of mine, or only my emotional attachment to reading. After all, why not have an unblemished first-edition on the shelf, and read a cheaper, battered copy?

And am I being hypocritical? After all, I have on occasion read a library copy of a book I own, to keep mine in tip-top shape. (Or, as tip-top shape as my books are ever in. I do try, but I’ve moved too many times to keep the dust jackets perfect.)

So…what do you think? Do you approve of can’t-be-read collectible books? Do you ever read cheaper/newer/library copies to keep your treasured books in good shape?

All answers welcome!!!

Cara
Cara King, who thinks people should feel free to read a first-edition copy of MY LADY GAMESTER anytime they wish

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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