MILITARY BOOK COLLECTOR'S NOTES
The would-be military collector has a wonderful variety of sources, including jumble sales, boot fairs, flea markets,
second hand booksellers and charity shops to try. If you're more interested in the prey than the thrill of the chase, you'll need to contact some dealers, the majority of whom run mail-order businesses. Most accept wants lists, and some specialize in finding difficult volumes.
The great majority of people who collect 20th-century military books are only really interested in first edition hardbacks, preferably with their paper
dust wrappers intact. In militaria, though, this isn't always possible.
Almost always, it is an author's earliest works that are the most expensive to obtain. The first print run of a young, untried writer will be, at most, a few thousand copies. Maybe half are sold to libraries (library copies, invariably marked and worn, are usually disdained by collectors), while, in time, the majority of the remainder will lose their
dust wrappers, get defaced, stained, creased or otherwise damaged, or simply be thrown away. Often, less than 100 copies survive this process in anything like fine condition, and, as a result, most serious collectors will drop their standards a little - or even a lot - to get their hands on a copy of a rare title.
Books should always be stored upright on shelves. Don't
pack them in so tightly that it's difficult to replace a book without damaging it, nor so loose that they lie at a slant. Take a book out by pushing in the ones alongside and gripping it by the middle, not top of the spine.
Damp, heat and light are all enemies of books. Some
serious collectors keep them in the deep-freeze! Keep your books well away from radiators and windows - sunlight can fade the spine of a book remarkably quickly. Books also need some circulating air to keep them in good condition, so glass-fronted bookcases are best avoided.
However, don't buy books just to put them on shelves. They are for reading as well as collecting. Choose a few authors you like and concentrate on collecting all their works. If you're looking for an investment, either buy currently unfashionable authors with a good track record, or new works by good young authors, and wait.
A special form of military history, the spy thriller, was a creation of the cold war. There are two traditions. The fantasy spy novel, whose heroes function like more glamorous versions of the private eye, is typified by the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming.
Other writers, such as John le Carre, Len Deighton, and