September 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Young Book Collectors

One of the great challenges of book collecting is that it is often seen as an old boys' club. We published a short feature on 'young collectors' back in 2010, finding mainly that book collecting isn't dying, but young collectors are setting new paths in collecting. Still, it's no secret that many of those who attend book fairs have graying hair. I always thought that had more to do with disposable income than interest -- I was never a 'super reader' as a kid and my parents are not collectors, but I was very interested in books (the physical nature of them and collecting them) since at least my early teens. How do we harness interest among young people and keep the tradition of great collections going?

For the past few years, the ABAA has carried the torch by holding a National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Competitors from more than thirty colleges and universities enter the contest, and an awards ceremony is held for the winners at the Library of Congress every October. This year's winners were announced recently. First Prize: Jordan Haug, University of California San Diego, "Mormon Fundamentalism & Polygamy"; Second Prize: Jessica Anne Kahan, University of Michigan, "Romance Novels in DJ, 1925-1935??; Third Prize: Andrew Ferguson, University of Virginia, "Bibliography & Puzzle of R.A. Lafferty"; Essay Prize: Kevin Baggot Roberts, Johns Hopkins University, "Cheap Thrills: Sex in American Publishing, 1924-1970.?? Congrats to those young collectors!

Now, the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS) has announced a second venue for young collectors. The group is offering a $1,000 award for an original essay by a writer aged thirty or younger on any aspect of book or manuscript collecting by private collectors or institutions in the U.S. from 1940 to the present. Good news for collectors not currently in college, or enrolled in a college that does not have a formal book-collecting contest of its own.

In order to be considered for the FABS contest, each essay should run 3,000-4,000 words and be based on original source materials and documented by appropriate Chicago Style endnotes and citations. Submissions should be sent to the FABS newsletter editor, Scott Vile, at before the deadline of May 1, 2013. The winning essay will be published in the FABS newsletter.