Feng Shui by Clear Englebert

Feng Shui & Book Collecting: Taped-Together Books

Feng Shui & Book Collecting: Taped-Together Books

worn book bound together with tape
My husband likes to read legal books and when I showed him this book he was absorbed for weeks! it’s practically rebound in packing tape.

Taped-together books are those that are inexpertly repaired, using materials that are not designed for book repair: regular transparent tape, packing tape, blue masking tape, duct tape, that sort of thing. The reason a book gets taped together by a non-professional is because they either love the book a lot or they find it extremely useful. The book becomes a perfect balance of yin & yang—yin because it’s not new and yang because of the activity of being used a lot. This is an area of book collecting that (as far as I know) is  unexplored and I highly recommend it.

The best thing about taped-together books is that they are almost guaranteed to be good, otherwise the owner wouldn’t have bothered fixing them. The unfortunate thing about them is that they (very often) get discarded. Almost no bookstore or resale outlet wants them—they simply get discarded. Very few people look deeper—why was the book of such value to the previous owner?

One of the books I’m currently reading (I usually read several at a time) is titled The Wilderness Reader and it’s an anthology of North American wilderness writing in chronological order starting in 1728. It’s edited by Frank Bergon, and I got it free—it was being discarded. It’s a regular mass-market size paperback, and there’s tape along the spine and upper fore corner of the cover. That’s what alerted me to its value as a good read. I figured that if someone went to that trouble, they must have really liked it. It’s fabulous! I highly recommend it!

Then I looked around the house for other taped together books and I realized I had stumbled across an “untrodden path” in book collecting, as John Carter would say. I referred to John Carter in an earlier article and one of the things he’s written is, “The variety of book collecting is almost infinite.” That’s important to remember because a lot of people think of book collecting as something that’s only for wealthy people—first editions and such. Collecting taped-together books is often a free hobby, with the only hard part being finding the books before they end up in the dump.

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