NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — Rare and valuable describes many of the books in Kelly Wiseman's collection, but sometimes the value isn't just the book itself.

Wiseman of North Platte has over 2,000 in his personal collection and he is not done yet.

"I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't chew tobacco, I don't gamble," Wiseman told The North Platte Telegraph. "I buy books."

His love of reading began when he was a youngster growing up in Aurora.

"It really started with my fifth grade teacher," Wiseman said. "We always had these required readings and it wouldn't keep my interest and I would be causing trouble."

The teacher gave him a book called "Durango Street."

"It was about inner-city kids trying to stay out of the gangs," Wiseman said. "I read it from front to back and I was hooked. I actually have the first-edition hardcover of that my daughter bought for me as a gift, because it was the book that started me reading, started me loving books."

His quest is for first editions.

"What I'll do is a book I've read in the past — now that I'm a collector, I'm a bibliophile — I will look for that book," Wiseman said. "People say, oh, you bought 20 books today, you didn't read all those. But actually, I read about 10 of those a long time ago, but I didn't own them or I own the paperbacks and I found first editions."

Wiseman started collecting with antiquarian books. Antiquarian refers to collectible items usually considered old and rare.

"Most of those, of course, are fiction, rare, expensive books that I go out and get," Wiseman said. "But then I starting thinking if, for instance, 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' and 'Anne of Green Gables' are classics from then, what's going to be the classics when we're really old or gone?"

Now he also tries to anticipate which contemporary books may one day be antiquarian.

"I think, which books are the Pulitzer Prize winners from now," Wiseman said. "Those books like 'All the Light We Cannot See' won a Pulitzer Prize and it's a fiction novel based on World War II, Nazi Germany — phenomenal book. It's like, will that book be one of these great classics? That's what's exciting about books for me."

Though he owns a large number of fiction books, nonfiction is his preference.

"I love to read autobiography," Wiseman said. "I have all kinds of books on (World War II). I'm interested in books on the Holocaust and that type of thing and even getting into things like Roswell and UFOs."

He said he doesn't read the wacky stuff.

"I'll read the ones that are by actual military people," Wiseman said. "Books that I feel like somebody's not just trying to make a buck."

He does like fiction as well, and sometimes the book comes first, sometimes the movie.

"Sometimes I haven't read the book and I see the movie and I'll think, that was a fantastic movie, I wonder what the book is like," Wiseman said. "That's how my collection of a lot of the fiction books came about, like 'Mystic River,' 'Gone Baby Gone,' 'Shutter Island,' I didn't read those first."

He said nonfiction is still his favorite because it's more educational.

"I gain more from it," Wiseman said. "That doesn't mean you don't learn from fiction, because sometimes the fiction books have truth in them as well."

Wiseman said he finds some interesting things inside books he buys.

"So I buy this book and I open it up, and in 1917, somebody wrote a little poem to someone, probably his wife, in calligraphy and it's neat," Wiseman said. "That's what made me buy this book."

He said the book itself might not be valuable, but "it was to somebody sometime."

"I've found money, I've found notes, I've found old bookmarks," Wiseman said as he pulled one book off the shelf. "This is 'The Enchanted Island of Yew' by Frank L. Baum and it's really rare."

Wiseman said he paid $10 for the book that is worth probably about $3,000.

"I found an old flower-pressed bookmark in it," Wiseman said. "I didn't keep it with the book, because I don't like to keep stuff in the books, because it damages the binding or the pages."

He recently purchased a paperback copy of "Dracula."

"I flip this open and here's this (a receipt) and this guy was from overseas, must have been Germany, and he was using his flight ticket for a bookmark," Wiseman said. "He probably bought this to read on the flight."


Information from: The North Platte Telegraph,

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