Books have been collected as long as they have existed. Roman emperors collected papyrus scrolls. But mostly, ancient book collections took the form of reference libraries. The advent of modern book collecting occurred in England in the 16th century during the reign of Henry VIII . He dissolved the Catholic monasteries thereby setting in motion an attempt to rescue their records of English history and literature and in effect the rescuers became the first modern book collectors. A noble beginning indeed.
The themes of the collectors of today are many and varied. They range from the most inexpensive and easily found, such as various editions of popular fiction in paperback or reprints of children’s classics like The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew to the most expensive and rare medieval manuscripts, and everything in between. There is literally a collecting field for any budget and any inclination.