Bright Young Collectors: Read Brown

Courtesy of Read Brown

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Read Brown, of NYU, who won second place in the 2021 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest for his collection "The Serious Business of Fun: A Collection of Books on the Video Game Industry."

Where are you from / where do you live?

I am from and currently live in Richmond, Virginia.

What did you study at University? What do you do now for an occupation?

I graduated from NYU last spring with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Math. I now work at Capital One as a software developer while also pursuing a masters in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins.

Please introduce us to your book collection.  What areas do you collect in? 

My primary focus is on the history of the video game industry. My books range from manuals on how to play specific games to analyses of the culture of gaming and the history of gaming companies. The collection spans 40 years of literature on the subject, including works from 1977 to 2017. As a sideline, I also collect books on cryptography.

How many books are in your collection? 

I have 74 books in the video game collection.

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer/Entertainment System Platform by Dr. Nathan Altice. I had seen a flyer advertising a talk by the author at our local public library and, being interested in video games, wanted to check it out. Much of Dr. Altice’s talk went over my head as I was only a freshman in high school at the time, but he was so engaging and down-to-earth that I managed to follow along and became eager to learn more about the history of video games and the companies that developed the industry.

And your favorite book in your collection?

My favorite book is Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines. Published in 1982, it is one of the earliest books in my collection. Also notable, it was written by Martin Amis before he became a famous novelist, and Steven Spielberg wrote the introduction.

Best bargain you’ve found?

When I first started collecting about 8 years ago, I don't think anyone else was actively collecting in the field. I was able to find several early books online for just a few dollars each. But even since then, I haven't spent a lot of money as I'm not too picky about quality. Some of these books were published in such small numbers that I'll gladly buy any copy I can find, even ex-library or damaged.

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?

There are several books published overseas that look interesting and which I hope to eventually acquire.

Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?

Chop Suey Books, my local independent bookstore.

What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?

Old video game consoles.