What Kind of Collector Are You?

I’ve been doing a bit of reading of academic journals lately. Partly because I’ve been working on a handful of scripted videos for my YouTube channel… and partly because I like reading academic journals.

But, in doing so, I’m coming across topics I want to talk about that don’t fit into the other things I’m doing. I think, I am going to start talking about them here.

So, today I am going to ask you, “What kind of collector are you?”

I was reading this article:

Belk, Russell W., et al. “Collectors and Collecting.” Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 15, no. 1, Jan. 1988, pp. 548-553.

There is quite a robust discussion of collecting behavior in it – which touch on some of the topics that I’m looking at adding to some videos. I won’t go into everything this article talks about, but the main point that I found interesting was how collectors were categorized.

Type A Collector:

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Type A Collectors employ Affective Criteria to choose their items. These types of collectors attempt to improve their collections, but do not have a need to “complete” their collections. They tend to be selective from a narrower theme, genre, author, or use the less tangible field of “what I like” as their criteria.

Type B Collector:

vinyl-2722233_1920Type B collectors employ Cognitive Criteria to choose their items. These types of collectors choose items that add to a series and help improve their knowledge rather than the beauty of the collection. They tend to have a need to collect more broadly, but also to complete what they collect such as, to own everything in a certain theme, genre, author and are less concerned with “liking” the item rather than having a full representation of an idea.

This article also, in general, creates 3 axis for collecting. According to the article most collectors fall somewhere between each pairing.

Conscious vs. Unconscious

stamps-2878264_1920This first comparison refers to how one chooses the items to add to their collection, or to what extent a recurrent theme is intentional.

You might be intentionally collecting every manga published by the Year 24 group, every licensed-good with your favourite anime character on it, or every English-language shonen battle series.

I collected stamps as a child. I remember reading a book about Philately, and in it they discussed that someone might choose a motif on the postage stamps to collect rather than worry about collecting all of a certain year, or a certain country. You mean I could have a collection of only stamps with ducks on it?! It was a strange revelation! Haha.

The other side of this coin is a bit more confusing. But, it refers to someone who thinks they’re just buying something in general, but it turns out there is a trend to the kind of titles they pick up.

I fall into the unconscious category (at least to some extent). I remember finding out that I picked up more indie, and historical titles when the guy at our local comic store told me. He was comparing the titles that he regularly saw my sister and I buy, and pointed it out to me. I hadn’t realized that that was what I was doing. I was just buying what looked interesting.

Vertical vs. Horizontal

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This category refers to how you display and store your items.

Vertical refers to a more structured storage. Most of your collection is contained, and remains in place. If it leaves that place, or is never homed near the rest of your collection you don’t even consider it part of your collection.

Horizontal refers to a looser organization. The items of your collection literally permeate your entire living space. It’s either too large of a collection to be contained, or you just want to be surrounded by all of the things. But, there is little structured organization (at least it is not evident to other people).

This category I probably fall into both. But, actually I am actively vertical in my organization. When my sister and I decided to live together, we also decided that we didn’t want our collection to take over our entire life, and that when people came over to our house, that they would barely notice its presence. If we weren’t intentional about it though, I know for a fact that it would permeate every cupboard, every bookcase, we would have art in every room, and figures on every shelf… and every possible accessory. But as it stands we keep our collection tightly squeezed in 1 and a half rooms.

Structured vs. Unstructured

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The last pairing refers to how strongly the collection evinces aspects of order and balance. This looks at the symmetry, or the disarray in how you display or order your items.

Does the display look beautiful. Have you arranged things by color, size, texture. Are they equally balanced. Is there white space. Can you highlight certain pieces in the space.

I’ve seen many manga/anime/figures collections that have this sense of structure and beauty. Items are removed when the space becomes overwhelmed, and accessories are added to enhance the look of the space. But, I think more of these types of collections fall into the second camp and certainly my own collection is more UNstructured vs structured.

I do have structure in the alphabetizing, and organization by size. But that is literally to make the best use of the space, and has NOTHING to do with beautiful organization. I did have some accessories to put on the shelves, but now they’ve been put away due to space constraints. Much of the collection is laying sideways, or stuffed into spaces that would help it fit into our allotted space. And ALL of our collection is permitted to remain (is not considered sale-able) regardless of the space constraints. We aren’t trying to make it beautiful or symmetrical, we’re just trying to get it to fit!

So, where do you see yourself? What kind of collector are you?

You may have read this whole post (I applaud you) and if you did, you may see yourself in the different categories. Within the 3 axis categories, there are 2 that appear most frequent in the research: Conscious/Vertical/Structured and Unconscious/Horizontal/Unstructured. The first set obviously appears more frequently in Type A collectors, and the second set appears more frequently in Type B collectors.

Though, personally I can see a lot of the traits that they describe as type A collectors in myself, I am definitely more Type B. I’d be even so bold as to say at least 80/20.

So, what’s the point?

When I was reading this article, I’ve been reminded of the comments that many people in the community (and outside of it) make regarding collections, or the way they collect.  There are some people that I would question whether they are collectors but actually regular consumers, some I worry may have some level of hoarding disorder, and there are some that I could see fit into the two camps (Type A and B).

But from all of these groups of people I often see or hear admonitions on the proper way to collect. If you don’t collect like me, you aren’t a real collector. If you don’t collect like this, you don’t have a good collection.

But, what this article boils it all down to is that collecting is varied. There are many types of collectors. There are many things to collect. There are many reasons to collect. There are many ways to collect.

You can collect whatever you want, however you want! And that’s an amazing thing!

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12 thoughts on “What Kind of Collector Are You?

  1. I think everyone collects things the way they want to and some people don’t collect things at all but prefer memories rather than clutter. Still, for me, I really only keep stuff I like. The value of it isn’t a concern as long as I like it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • People do collect the way they want, but I think some people are maybe not so conscious of their own habits, which I find interesting.
      You don’t have to physically own an object to be a collector either. So, things like collecting memories, or experiences are legitimate collections as well.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. That’s all very interesting stuff! I see myself as an unconscious, vertical, structured collector. My shelves, which are situated right next to each other, embodying a space in my room, are organized by color, size, genre, series, and type (manga or anime). By definition alone, Type B felt like the kind of collector style that fits me. But upon further reading, Type A might actually be more my style.

    This was something I never considered, so thanks for sharing and expanding upon my own collection of collecting knowledge!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A mix between Type A and B/ unconscious/ vertical/ unstructured.
    When I start a collection, I do it with the purpose of completing it, but I only start or complete collections I like/ A week or two ago I organized my manga and I realized that I tend to go for shojo series the most, I never thought about it before/ I recently bought new bookshelves (why I organized) and now have 4 in my bedroom and 2 in the living room. Whatever isn’t on the shelves in my room, isn’t part of my collection/ I don’t care how I organize my manga, books, movies, anime, figures, hence why I only organized then two weeks ago by publisher for manga, title for movies, and better visibility for figures. I just want everything to fit neatly!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You really sound like you’re an even mix between the two types… I’m definitely more type B. I wish I was more type A though. There would be so many benefits from being a more structured type collector. I think you’ve got the best of both worlds!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I feel like I’m all over the place, but I have multiple collections too. For simplicities sake I’ll just look at collections that have to do with comic books and comic characters. I collect anything and everything that appeals to me within this field, but I’ll occasional grab something I know nothing about because I want to learn about it and expand. I buy mostly based on affordability or you could say, “is it cheap enough?” I like volume over value. I rarely worry about completion, their are some comic series I would love to complete and others that I don’t care to. I don’t seek out anything actively, but will search for things when an opportunity is directly present. (I.e. Garage sales, but no online shopping). My collection, especially action figures, is fairly vertical, but i keep comics through out my house, not always in order, but protected.

    I guess I’m probably more type b.

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  6. This was a really insightful post. When it comes to collecting, I’m an impulse buyer with a lot of particular interests within the anime and manga field so I’m probably more type A than B…for the rest, it’s probably unstructured/horizontal…and for the conscious/unconscious thing, it’s not really one way or another due to the nature of impulse buying, but a significant chunk of it is shonen manga/anime and related stuff, due to how ubiquitous it is in comparison to the other manga/anime demographics.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. I guess I would consider myself as Type B; Unconscious, Vertical and Unstructured

    This phrase really got to me, “If it leaves that place, or is never homed near the rest of your collection you don’t even consider it part of your collection.” I feel like, that quote represents me.

    Great post! Made me think a lot about how I’ve been collecting for almost 5 years. Now, I have an urge to organize. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

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