I've been collecting books for a while now, and have spent many happy years chasing down numerous out of print titles by my favorite authors in order to build complete collections of their work. I think it's interesting to see how a writer develops and builds and changes over the years -- something you can only follow by reading all their books in order -- plus looking for and finding the titles can be like a lifelong treasure hunt.
I have scored some major finds, like an excellent copy of Penny McMorris's Crazy Quilts, the holy grail of quilters who love crazies because only 5,000 copies were printed, and a first edition of Byron's complete works (which I found in a junk shop for a couple bucks.) I've also inherited some books cherished by family collectors who came before me, too. My grandmother left to my mother a set of Mark Twain's novels, all signed by the author, and Mom decided to split them up among all her kids. I asked for and got A Conneticut Yankee and his Joan of Arc books, which were the ones I most wanted.
There are a few titles that I'd still like to add to my personal library someday. One is Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus, a massive work of art that uses nonsense language and fantastic art to define and explore, well, no one is still quite sure (you look at this page from it and tell me what you think.) I know it's nothing but made up gibberish, but I've always wanted to see it anyway. The problem with this one is I know where I can get a copy, but I'm not yet willing to pay the beastly asking price, which is usually around $500.00. This book is also the reason I still make the rounds of thrift stores and junk shops; I have a feeling that's where I'm going to find my copy someday.
There are online sites like The Rare Bookroom that provide digital versions of books that have been scanned to make them available to everyone, which I think is great for rare/ancient first editions of books that the public at large might otherwise never be able to see. It may also be the only way we can preserve for future generations books like delicate illuminated medieval manuscripts, which will slowly but surely be destroyed by the ravages of time.
Is there a rare or hard-to-find book out there somewhere that you covet for your collection? Where do you look for hidden book treasures? Let us know in comments.