Collecting Unusual Books

A look at collecting unusual books, including subject, size, style, and how and where to find them.

People of all ages and types collect books by author, genre, etc. From within these troops there are those books that are classified as unusual. Books that are defined more by their differences from the average book on a shelf, than by their similarities.


Books that vary greatly in style from the average are a good example. Block printed books fall into this category. Prime examples of block printed books are those by Michigan author and artist, Gwen Frostic. People from all lifestyles seek out her books for their distinctive style of writing and the beautifully crafted linoleum block images within their pages. Some wonder though if the books would have been such great sellers if marketed for just their writing. Combined with her illustrations though, they have managed to work their way into the souls of literally millions of people worldwide during the years. Sold through her own store, Presscraft Papers, her books are still highly sought even after her passing. Some of her most popular books can be found for purchase online. A recent search at Ebay turned up several of her most popular titles including, My Michigan, These Things are Ours, A Place on Earth, A Walk With Me, To Those Who See, and Wisps of Mist. Any one of these is a perfect example of a book that stretches the bounds of normal.


A miniature book is another example of an atypical book. Most, if of regular size, would not be as sought after as they are in diminutive size. Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the famous Peanuts gang, published a nearly endless supply of products about the beloved gang, including a tiny book titled, The Meditations of Linus. While Peanut fans may want to own a copy, no one who sees the book and is a collector of unusual books will be content until they own one, simply because of its size.


What oddities lay within the pages of other books is another common reason collectors will search out certain editions. Some new books, such as Dr. Ernest Drake's Dragonology, The Complete Book of Dragons, edited by Dugald A Steer, B.A. (Brist), S.A.S.D., is written as if it is a true, as opposed to fictional, account of the study of dragons. Books have been done in this vein for some time, and another that comes to thought is Gnomes, with text by Wil Huygen, from 1976, which explores the day-to-day life of gnomes in detail. The viewpoints through the text and illustrations of these books are such a fresh way to approach the subjects that they add to their collectible status via their unusualness.

Some may ask if there are any unusual books left to discover, and happily, the answer is yes. Good places to look for older editions include estate sales, antique shops, attics, and all the usual places you would think to look in general. If you know specifically what you are in search of, you could do a search online at Ebay or an online used book dealer, such as or Alibris. If you are in search of a new book on an unusual subject, head to your local bookstore and see if they will look through their catalogs, or search yourself online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Booksense, or Bookcloseouts.

For whatever reason you find yourself in search of an unusual book, know that you are one of many most likely in search of that very same text. Books hold a place in many hearts, and unusual books seem to settle in even more deeply with some. As a collector of unusual books, you are one of a growing crowd.

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