1) When/why did you start your James Bond collection?
Although I remembered seeing bits of the Bond films on TV as a youngster, The Living Daylights in 1987 was the first Bond I saw at the cinema and I was so blown away by how cool Bond was that I saw it 4 times. To this day, it is still exactly the right balance of "Book Bond" and "Film Bond" for me. From then on I absorbed as much Bond via books, magazines and VHS cassettes as was possible. Growing up in England in the late 80s, pre-Internet, I pretty much relied on Graham Rye's awesome 007 Magazine to give me news, rumours and any opinions that I didn't know I had! (Joining the James Bond Fan Club later allowed me to attend the 1990 convention at Pinewood Studios which was like entering Narnia.)
Second hand shops and car boot sales often had Fleming books for 10p and my friend and I had a competitive race to see who could buy the most unique looking titles. I distinctly remembered being quite confused by his newly acquired titles Icebreaker and Colonel Sun as they didn't have Fleming's name on them, nor were they movies I'd heard of. Eventually my friend stop collecting and I absorbed his collection. And I just kept buying. I read the Fleming books in order (from my brand new 1988 Coronet 'silhouette' edition of Live and Let Die) onward throughout college, usually on the train every morning, leaving Casino Royale to last as I'd heard it was the best (it isn't - in my opinion - but it is terrific). I love the variations in the cover designs, how they change with fashions in publishing and graphic design. It's interesting to see how some publishers lavished beautiful artwork on them (the Pan editions with Sam Peffer paintings) and yet others, who perhaps should have known better, just slapped on library photographs with no thought whatsoever (hello, Penguin).
2) What books do you collect?
First I should say I don't spend much on this hobby. I can't afford it. I'd never pay more than £10 for a book and even then it would have to be because I know I'd never see it again. A purchase is a treat to myself.
I'll collect any second hand prints of the novels, any Bond magazines; pretty much anything with 'Bond' written on it. I've recently started picking up non-English language editions and have some French, German and Polish paperbacks. I also have lots of very good Bond reference books but I tire of these endless generic tomes about 007 that just recycle the usual information about the movies. I admit to preferring non-Eon approved "unofficial" reference books as they're far more opinionated and unafraid to analyse the novels, the films, their production and successes or failures, warts and all. My favourites are the terrific Licence to Thrill by James Chapman (the 2007 edition - a daunting chunk of solid text which sorely needed the odd photograph), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by Alan Barnes and Marcus Hearn (2000 reprint, although their review of Licence to Kill is way off the mark!) and, the grand-daddy of all Bond reference books, The James Bond Bedside Companion by Raymond Benson (the 1988 reprint with the Graham Rye cover). If you can still find it, The Rough Guide to James Bond (2002, edited by Paul Simpson) is a brilliant pocket-sized beginners guide to the entire Bond phenomenon in all mediums which had enough amazing Bond trivia in it to surprise even this jaded reader. It's my Birds of the West Indies, if you like. I'm looking forward to reading The Battle for Bond by Robert Sellers (I found the 'banned' first edition), it looks amazing. Also Sally Hibbin's The Making of Licence to Kill (1989) was the best making-of Bond book since Roger Moore decided not to follow up his "Live And Let Diary". (Ok, so that wasn't its actual title, but it should have been!). I wished they'd start documenting the film's productions with words again instead of just Greg Williams' Bond on Set photos. I know a picture can tell a thousand words but they're usually rubbish at conveying interviews...
3) What is the "holy grail" of your Bond collecting?
Well, I've no real concept of what's rare or not other than "do I keep seeing this book in shops?". What's common for me may be that one vital missing item in someone else's collection on another continent.
I've a reprint of a early draft of a screenplay for The Living Daylights which is fascinating reading. I was one click away from getting a 1955 Pan paperback of Casino Royale (with the blonde Bond art on the cover, proof that Daniel Craig was perfect casting!) for £20 but missed the online auction deadline. That WOULD have been my holy grail. Otherwise, I have a mint 1st edition hardback of Octopussy and The Living Daylights which cost me £8 in 1990 (a fortune back then!), a 1956 Pan paperback of Moonraker with Bond seemingly drawn as Lieutenant Columbo on the cover and a few odd omnibus editions with the novels all printed out of order, rendering the cliffhanger endings of some of the novels incomprehensible to new readers! I own a copy of Bond Bound, the book sized catalogue printed for the 2008 exhibition "Ian Fleming & The Art of Cover Design", something I'd have loved to have visited but I knew nothing about it until after the exhibition had closed! The book is flawed but a great way of keeping track of the items I've still to collect. Your PizGlora.com site is equally as valuable.
I think I'm most proud of bargains rather than rarities. I found the Triad Panther boxset in Oxfam last year for £2, I don't know how rare that is but I've never seen one in the flesh before. I found the 1988 Coronet paperback of Doctor No with the rare knife artwork (only used on the 9th imprint) in a second hand book shop in Stroud for £2.50 three years ago. That buzz of the 'hallelujah' moment that you get when you see a) something you haven't got, b) that it's only selling for a few pounds and c) the shop owner has no idea of its value to you, is one of life's little luxuries. For that reason, I can't ignore any second hand shop, wherever I am. I found a signed paperback of the late Iain Banks' 1999 novel "The Business" in Oxfam today, as it happens, for 99p. One man's junk is another man's treasure.