The outdoor writer's home library

Show me an outdoor writer who doesn’t own the proper tools for his job, and I’ll show you a person with a sweet dream and spouse with one or two full-time jobs.
Anglers own countless lures, rods and reels. Hunters carry rifles or shotguns, and may own one or more dogs, a 4X4, a duck boat and more gear than is needed. These are tools of our trade.
The home office also requires a telephone. One or more computers are needed, as is a printer. Internet access also is part of our basic equipment needs.
Whether we like it or not, this outdoor writing gig isn’t getting any easier – even for staff writers with a guaranteed monthly paycheck. Sadly, some writers never have all the tools that would make it easier to chase down certain stories.
Even for those with most of the necessary equipment, one valuable feature is often missing from home offices.
The outdoor library has been the backbone of my outdoor writing career for 40 years. My library consists of some 7,000 hardcover and paperback books, and thousands of outdoor magazines.
I save books and magazines and store them in a cool, dry place, and always keep them close at hand. I can use them to research any required outdoor topic.
I was once assigned a story called “Coping with Bugs.” It covered the annual battle between human and biting or stinging insects, and it would have been nearly impossible to write without having a research library of information to draw upon.
Books and informative brochures and other printed items are everywhere. I’m most proud of my book collection, but some pamphlets enabled me to write an authoritative piece without having to travel far for the information.
Books can be found in old flea markets, garage and yard sales, out-of-print book shops and from other collectors. Search and you may find a treasure trove of research books, but beware of moldy or musty books. Buy only clean, dry books.
Some may be considered outdoor classics and merit space on my shelves. My intent, while building my office library, was to collect books with great content on particular topics. It’s a plus if a book has a dust jacket and is in good shape.
Many writers worry little about buying a new computer, camera or lens, but dither at spending $5 for a book that can provide enough information to write an informative piece. Books bought for a personal business library are tax deductible.
Years ago when first beginning to write for magazines I’d haunt the local library for information, only to come up dry. I then visited the county library, and had no luck. The next step was the state library, and it was a gigantic flop. It was then I decided to build my own library.
This was long before Google and other search engines made it easier to track down information with several keystrokes. I still go to my personal reference library first for information before touring the maze of online sites that can help writers locate information.
Finding things online can be amazingly simple if you know how to do it. However, it’s possible to spend all day tracking down information. The office library is a timesaver, and for writers, saving time means making money.
An office library is a constant source of pleasure, an immediate means of researching any type of outdoor topic, and it can be a tremendous source of revenue at a later date. I never advocate buying books as an investment, but it’s a thought.
The smart outdoor writer with access to a well-stocked office library is one step ahead of his colleague who must spend hours and days finding things on the Internet. It may take 10 years to build a good home library, but so what?
This is a classic example of spending money to make money. On many occasions I’ve spent $20 on a book for its solid information, and turned that over into a $500 or $1,000 paycheck. Spend money whenever possible to build your office library, and in this era of high-priced gas, the money saved by not having to drive everywhere for information, can be spent on another book that will be within easy reach for the next job.
DaveRicheyDave Richey, of Buckley, Mich., is a longtime and prolific outdoor writer and former OWAA board member. He’s a recipient of the Ham Brown Award and the Excellence in Craft Award. Note: He buys and sells fishing and hunting books and also is available for a fee to evaluate the contents of a home library for estate sales. Contact him for more detailed information at

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