I was never much of a collector. I think I realised very early on, that sometimes the collecting, or the adherence thereto, could sometimes get in the way of actually enjoying the things you were collecting - and I wanted to enjoy things. People seemed to become obsessive about 'completeness' when it came to collecting - focusing on collecting, rather than what was being collected; an obsession that appeared to feed a particular aspect of compulsion that I didn't want to deal with. For me, I'd far rather have many different kinds of things that enrich my life, rather than fixate on only one thing. I like variety - not necessarily in a riotous sense, just various.
Some folks see their collections as 'objects', in the external sense; and I wanted the content to be internal. Content is king.
When it comes to books, I saw them as 'tools', of a sort. I did not buy precious tomes that I had to coddle or be careful with, I bought books I could write margin notes in. I like marginalia. I like expressing my thoughts. I wasn't lazy with them, or careless - I just saw them as things I could devour, inhale. I have no issue with collectors, because precious things need to be preserved, but I leave that to those for whom it is suitable, and I keep to my 'consumption' (and I mean that in the nicest possible way, in the best sense of the word) side of the fence. I like the physicality of books, the ability to hold them; their use as a barrier between yourself and the rest of the world; and sometimes I even like the smell. Lignin and dust and comfortable decay. Although I did have a book for a communications course I once took, that I couldn't read at all - couldn't stand to have it near me, because it had a smell like an overripe oil slick. It was deeply unpleasant.
The beauty of old books, though, is the same beauty of any old thing before much of the world become a utilitarian paradise - they show the desire to make things lovely, to make them something more than just a 'tool' to be 'used'. Craft, in so many ways, seemed to become a lost art for a long time, in many ways - homes, banks, buildings of all sorts, that once used to rest like gingerbread houses on a bed of icing grass, became boxes with no flavour or personality. Old TVs looked like fine carpenter craft, then they, too, became utilitarian. Everything became beige, benign, because someone thought this approach would appeal to a wider cross-section of the populace. Maybe it did, but it also became very boring.
The idea of being drunk on words, though - that I deeply understand. The way some people speak, write, is delicious, palpable, luscious, piquant. I don't think there's a single person on this planet who hasn't, at least once, read something that made their heart stop, or caught breath in the throat, or caused their spine to burn.
While I do love holding books when I read them, I also have books on my phone. It's convenient, it's lightweight - carrying around Hitchens' essays or a copy of the G.E.B. can cause a little wearing on the shoulder muscles - and it offers one thing that books, sadly, don't - no one will ever ask you what you're reading (and thereby intrude) when you're staring at your phone.
Addendum: I had a whole wall of books here once, not all nice, but it was deeply satisfying having them - satisfying and comforting. Sadly, there came an infestation (not caused by me or my books, to be clear), and I was forced to throw many of them out. I felt this ... loss. I remember, also, the judgmental derision of the wife of the couple who own my building, when she saw my wall of books - she must live in some kind of Frank Lloyd Wright minimalist paradise, because all those books apparently made me a hoarder - uppity tone 'we get rid of all our books'.
I was just thinking of something I heard in a movie (based on a book, no less), that libraries *should* be full of dusty old books, with nooks and crannies, and places to hide away in.