Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Purging the Paper

by Raelene Gorlinsky

Last weekend my son helped me take 8 large boxes and 18 bags of books to the library, to donate to the semi-annual book sale fundraiser. Well over 700 books! And I've already got another three large bags filled, and will have more in the next few weeks.

Yes, I am purging my personal book collection. There are 8 bookcases in the den, 14 bookcases in my bedroom. And many boxes of books in the storage room. (And this is only the fiction, not counting the nonfiction and reference books.) I'm a book "keeper"--you never know when you might want to reread a book or even just a favorite scene in a book. Unless I disliked or was totally bored by a book, when I finish it I stick it on my shelves. Which is why there is no more space for books or for more bookcases.

So periodically I force myself to go through the shelves and cull books that I haven't looked at in several years. It's excrutiating to give them up, and I am never as firm with myself as necessary. But this time... Well, I'm having the flooring in part of the house replaced (my landlords love me, I spend more on the house than an owner would), which means having to empty and move all those bookcases, and then later put all the furniture back and reorganize all the books onto the shelves. So that's a strong impetous to have fewer books to deal with.

Also, my mind is finally making the subconscious adjustment to a digital future. I no longer have to fear that if I get rid of a book, I may later want it again and be unable to find it. No more haunting used bookstores--there's a good chance I can find most books in future as ebooks.

Not that I won't always want print books. I would never feel comfortable in a building without lots of books to look at and fondle. And I do have a few rare collectibles. But I can cut back a bit, I guess. Of course, I should probably mention that my office here at EC houses the official company library of one copy of each of our print books. Ah, lots of bookcases and books in my office to make me feel cozy...

So what about you? Are you an obsessive keeper of books, or one of those people who gives every book away once you've finished it?

17 comments:

Camryn Rhys said...

I used to be a major book hoarder. But about five years ago, I had a year where I moved six times in one year. That cured me of book hoarding for good. After that, I whittled it down to just the books I adored, and gave everything else to the library. It's a good thing, too, becuase I've moved three times in the last five years since then. I just couldn't lug those books to one more remote location.

This is why I adore my Kindle.

Virginia said...

I have books everywhere. I also was afraid for the longest time, that I would never find some of these titles again, so I stock piled a lot of books. But I am also moving into the digital world, and I love my Kindle. I will always keep the autographed copies I get, but of late I have been making room and clearing out some of the stacks. :)

Mel Teshco said...

I'm not a book hoarder, though I do tend to keep my autographed books and a couple of authors books that I've loved.
My aunt is an obsessive reader (and writer) and her whole house is jam packed with her books that are really precious to her =)

Amber Skyze said...

I'm a book hoarder. I have them in every room in the house. I try to purge every six months. I love ebooks, but I'll always enjoy the feel of a print book.

N.J.Walters said...

I used to have a lot more books, but several moves made me cull almost all of them. Plus, like you, I no longer fear if I get rid of a book I won't be able to get it anymore. But I still have some favorites on the shelf that won't be going anywhere. :)

Ashlyn Chase said...

My husband hates clutter, so we're limiting ourselves to 4 bookcases. 2 each. I take most of my print books to the local used book store.

I have a collection of anthologies that I can't quite part with. At least I can keep 4 or 5 stories with one book. (wink)

My nook has loads, my ipod has Kindle books on it and my laptop holds the pdf books. I won't want for reading material for a very long time.

Lynn LaFleur said...

I'm jealous of your EC collection in your office. I would love to have one copy of every print book EC offers!

I have certain authors and special friends who I'll always buy in print. Otherwise, I'm a Kindle gal. I currently have five bookcases overflowing with print books, most that I haven't read yet. As I read them, I'm passing them along to girlfriends. Any new books I buy now are ebooks. Love my Kindle!

Barbara Elsborg said...

I keep all books that I love but like you, Raelene, there comes a time that you have to downsize the number. So I decided to read mine all again and if I still liked them, I keep them. If not, they go to the charity shop. I did part with a few, mostly thrillers because if I know what's going to happen, doesn't seem much point reading it a third time. But the character driven books, yep, in ten years time, I can read them again - assuming I live that long! The really scary thing is that some of them, I don't remember reading first time round - though I know I did. Darn memory.
The problem I find with my ebook collection, is that it sits there and I don't get round to reading a lot of them.

Tera Ashby said...

I not only keep books. I have a working spreadsheet to categorize them. An alpha-numeric code is assigned to each book. A number to designate an author and a letter for each book of that author. 800 authors and counting. It's not pretty. But I forced myself to put them in a storage locker, as I was running out of room to you know, walk. Now I find myself slowly building up my library in my Kindle. I love you Amazon. You've saved my floors. My side of the house was sinking.

Lynne Silver said...

Now that I have an eReader, I keep very few books. Those books I keep are nearly all signed by the author. (Thank you RWA Nationals) How coudl I possibly give those treasures away?

Kristi Lea said...

I used to be a book hoarder. I didn't need 6 moves to break me, just one.

We haven't even unpacked all of our boxes of books and our shelves are full: 4 (tall ones) in my office, 3 more (tall) in the kids "study" upstairs, 2 in what will be my husband's office, 1 in the kitchen full of cookbooks, 2 short ones in my son's room overflowing with picture books, another in my daughter's room overflowing with chapter books, books in the entertainment center....And I gave away boxes of books before and during the move.

I am *this* close to buying my kids (age 4 and 7) each a tablet or e-reader just to cut down on the piles of kids books in the house.

I don't think I'll completely give up things like oversized picture books or special edition ones. But for fiction, cookbooks, even non-fiction research, I'm looking forward to the digital age. Micro SD cards are MUCH easier to pack than paper.

I finally have come to realize that it isn't the paper that I love about my books, its the places where they take my imagination.

Harlie Reader said...

Book hoarder but I'm getting better. Hubby has threatened divorce if I don't get rid of some and I have already given 4 boxes of books to the library but I still have 3 more boxes to go through.

I never throw out a hardback and my most prized hardback is a signed copy of Heartbreaker from Julie Garwood. That's sacred.

Marika

Harlie Reader said...

BTW, great post.

ECPI Editors said...

Tera honey, we may have to come up with a 12-step program for you. ;-) Yeah, I keep a list of all the books I read (going back 30 years), but just author and title. Mainly so I don't re-purchase books I already own or have read. But codes to track by author and book?!

Raelene

Laurann Dohner said...

We're a cluttered house so I switched to ebooks to save on space. Some are out of print so I have print books of those and just some of my favorite series that I enjoy re-reading over and over, or autographed books. I buy most books in ebook form now, put a bunch on rewriteable disks in alphabetical order, and keep an extra copy in case of accidental damage. It's much easier to keep my extensive book collection inside a few CD books. Every six months I open the folder I keep where I store my new bought books and add them to my CD collection. It saves a TON of room. LOL! If I want to read one of my favorites, it's as easy as grabbing the CD and popping it into my computer. I can even email them to my Ipad to take on the go.

caroline said...

I'm a book addict and have bookshelves in almost every room in the house. Last year I bought a kindle and almost one year later we're still in love.

It won't make me give up my first edition addiction or my love of old history books, but it does help.

anny cook said...

I only buy a limited selection of books in print now, but those I buy I keep. I have ten bookcases mostly double and triple booked.

AND I have tons of digital books organized by author. I enjoy reading both ways. And I rarely give a book away.