The appeal of collecting antique books goes well beyond having a passion for the written word, or an interest in a particular subject area or author. Antique books, sometimes called antiquarian books, have an added historical dimension due to their antiquity. This pertains to the subject matter of the antique book, as well as to the craftsmanship and materials which went into producing the book.
Many people are drawn to collecting antique books as a result of an appreciation for the beauty of antique books as works of art representative of their age, as well as for their literary contents in an historical context. Regardless of what triggers someone to be interested in antique books, it is rare for a collector to remain immune to the appealing influences of fine leather bindings, decorated cloth bindings, the heft or feel of the book, decorated end papers, gilt edges, fine manufactured papers, hand-made papers, fine illustrations, lithographs and ethcings, unusual book-plates, limited editions, signed editions, first editions, original dust-jackets, unusual graphics, rarity, and so on and so forth.
No matter what other individual influences and preferences pertain, antique book collectors place a premium on the condition of the antique books they acquire. While collectors ideally seek books in original and unaltered condition, a premium is also placed on the antique book being able to be handled as originally intended, that is for normal reading or references purposes. While books in original and very good condition are much sought after, there is also a legitimate market for those antique books which have been rebound or competently and sympathetically repaired. An antique book that cannot be handled is best found under glass in a museum rather than in a collector's library.
Some of the most popular collection categories for antique books include: Antique Early Printed Books, Antique Classical English Literature, Antique Modern First Editions, Antique Fine Printing & Typography, Antique Americana, Antique Science & Medicine, Antique Sporting Books, Antique Architecture and Design, Antique Fine & Performing Arts, Antique Religious Books, Antique Aeronautical & Maritime and Antique Cookery Books.