On getting rid of books…

It’s all well and good to feel noble about getting rid of books, but the actual DOING of this is not as easy as you’d think. For starters, I’ve been carting these books around for years. Decades even. That’s a long time to hang on to something, and then suddenly cut the cord on! There has to be a REASON I packed these friggin’ things up move after move, instead of dumping them at the nearest Salvos bin, right? 

Well, there is a reason or two.

Reason 1: Time – every time I moved, I didn’t have time to actually SORT and pack. Things would just get tossed back into boxes (or, in many cases, moved in the same boxes they didn’t get unpacked from in the last move or three!). This time, I’m MAKING time.

Reason 2: SentimentalityBut I have the whole collection! Well, I’m keeping a few of those, but in most cases, the collection itself is getting the toss. There’s a another side. I find it hard to get rid of books that are written or edited by friends – I have a feeling that the majority of my collection over the next ten years will evolve to contain mostly Australian authors because of this…

Reason 3: Money – This one is the kicker. The boxes and boxes of books represent a massive financial outlay over the years. In the past I’ve tried to recoup some of it on eBay, but the time it takes outweighs the money it makes. I just have to look at it and say, "Well, you’ve given me a lot of pleasure over the years, so I got my money’s worth." I think that’s fair.

Reason 4: What if…?
What if I need that for school? What if I want to read it again? What if my KIDS want to read that? What if it’s a collectable one day! This one is getting easier and easier to blow off, with Fishpond, Better World Books, eBay, the evil Amazon, and all those places that make it real easy to get a hold of things you want to read, or need for whatever purpose. There ain’t much out there I wouldn’t be able to replace pretty quickly if I needed to, and as for the collectible thing? If it’s something I love, then it’s worth keeping. There’s not point in collecting what I don’t love.

Something   wrote a while back about clutter helped me get over some of this. She said something like if you think about how much it costs you to move/store these things for years and years, and the effort and annoyance of having things in the way, and cluttering up the place, it’s not worth the hassle for the one or two of a hundred things you might one day need.

There will always be books I’ll regret getting rid of, I’m sure. But there’ll ALWAYS be new books to read. Years ago, I used to re-read my books three or four times on average. I rarely re-read any old favourites anymore. I simply don’t have time. So the collection, while well used, really serves no purpose anymore. I’m never going to have the space to display it. I get more new books than I have time to read, without ever going back to old favourites. If one day I can’t afford books, or I stop reviewing and judging and no longer get some gratis, or no longer work as a teacher librarian with access to more than 15,000 books everyday, you know what? There’s still public libraries. And friends with bigger collections than me!

So while I’m sad about some of the books I’m going to get rid of (hopefully to good homes!), I’m still keeping a great many. Some I may later on dispose of as well (I’m looking at YOU Wheel of Time series!), but for this go-round, they got lucky. Maybe I’ll be stronger next time!

And if you’ve seen my bookcase at home, you’ll know how much can accumulate in just over a year, so there’s no need for me to feel sorry about it! 

Bring on the Book Purge!


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20 responses to “On getting rid of books…

  1. Anonymous

    Must admit that the idea of a book purge almost makes me cry. The idea that I can’t get to your book purge really does make me cry.

    • Anonymous

      I’m sorry you can’t come 🙂
      For the sake of honesty, I should say I got some practice last year at chucking out books. I did a MASSIVE weed of my library – did fiction throughout the year (and had my library assistants in conniptions because of some of the books I was dicing!) and the non-fiction in a huge three week blitz when we were preparing for renovations. It was a lot easier than doing my OWN books though, because I didn’t BUY any of the weeded books!

  2. Anonymous

    I reckon its the money one that is the hardest. I had a similar thing with my yarn stash when I suddenly was single and I looked at how much cash the stash represented.
    What can you do? That’s what being a collector means. The price you pay is for the enjoyment of obtaining.
    Now I need to come to the destash, huh? Trying to work out what is reasonable time to stay for 2 hour commute when I really have a lot of editing to do.

    • Anonymous

      Well, the answer to that is EASY. Come for the whole day. Bring your work with you. Socialise when necessary (ie: when others you know are here), work for the rest! I have marking to do and a trivia quiz to write, among other things…

      • Anonymous

        But I have a dog now

      • Anonymous

        Who is welcome to come. Or who surely has a grandma who would love to have him *evil grin*. Or who could, in all likelihood, happily stay home alone.
        But is welcome, most importantly…

      • Anonymous

        He is toilet trained. Could he be in the house or would he have to stay outside? Just that he is left alone all week and I’d like to not do that tomorrow as well. He is very sweet and cuddly.

      • Anonymous

        We’re not supposed to have pets full stop here, let alone in the house! But because we’re leaving in a few weeks and I don’t care anymore, it would mostly depend on whether I’m allergic to him. 🙂

      • Anonymous

        ok. well then perhaps we will come down!
        What kind of dogs are you allergic to?

      • Anonymous

        I’m allergic to most of them, some more so than others. I think the only ones I’ve come across that I’m okay with are Dalmatians and the like. I’m okay with most as long as I don’t touch them. 🙂 There’s only been a couple of breeds (not little fluffies) that I’ve had really bad reactions to (runny eyes and nose, itchy throat etc).

      • Anonymous

        See how we go, i feel really really tired this weekend and that drive feels daunting. Also its midnight. May feel different tomorrow

  3. Anonymous

    i went through this when I got rid of a whole lot of my teenage books. Even with ones i knew that I would never read again or if I did the library would have them… it was a wrench to give up MY copies, like the paperback of the Seeress of Kell that I remember the agonising wait for in high school.
    But… it felt good to let them go. I need to do more of it.

    • Anonymous

      I just want them to go to good homes I guess. Probably why I donate so many to school! It DOES feel good though!

  4. Anonymous

    When I started up my now defunct second-hand bookstore (hmmm, I’d love to do that again, if it could make money), I did this – picked my absolute favourites that I couldn’t live without, and sacrificed the rest as part of the seed stock. The only books I still think about with a pang are my Terry Pratchetts. Not that I had the full collection, but I had six or seven and now I have none and Pratchett is so easy to read when you’ve got a bit of spare time but no brain space…
    Collection is slowly building up, and I’m working on hubby to get a new bookshelf to build it up more. He doesn’t understand the joy of books, poor man. But I intend to buy more, so I neeeeeeed more space. A simple equation to me 🙂

    • Anonymous

      The Terry Pratchetts were giving me the most trouble last night! I ended up putting them in the “donate to school” pile, because that gave me the option to change my mind tomorrow 🙂 Although now catundra has asked for them…
      Interestingly, I always thought that I might start a bookstore one day, and I had a similar thought about seed stock! Loving my job as I am, it’s probably SO far off in the future, if it ever happened, that I’ll have a whole OTHER collection by then!

      • Anonymous

        Lol. I might just wait until my husband’s screeching at the number of books, and then start another bookstore and that’ll satisfy him. And there’s nothing like having a whole lot more books you can read.
        Saying that, it’s pitiful the number of books I do have compared to most people I know. He really, really, really doesn’t understand 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    there have been two or three serious book de clutters in my life, when I left uni and my parents were moving IO told them to get rid of any books still at their place. The thinking then was if they hadn’t come with me then I wouldn’t miss them. Then I did one when before my future husband moved in, I gotr rid of maybe 100 books, then before and during the move I identified about 200 more that could go. This was a huge wrench and got rid of lots of books that I was unlikely to re read. Doesn’t mean I didn’t love them though.
    I now have a small bag of books for charity sitting in the hall. It’s always a wrench.

  6. Anonymous

    For me, the whole “but the kids might read them” is always the deciding argument.
    I used to give them away to my local library with the knowledge that I can always take them out again if I want to red them. Then libraries got very snobby about what they would and wouldn’t take and I couldn’t do that anymore.
    Wish we’d known about the purge. We were in the area yesterday and would have dropped in. That’s what I get for dropping off LJ for a while 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I invited you BOTH via Facebook! Terri came, with Darian, for a good couple of hours 🙂 We even TALKED about you – she said you probably didn’t come cos you had so many books already… 🙂 If you’re around in the next week, they’ll probably still be lining the hallway til next weekend… Text me.

  7. Anonymous

    Send ’em to Better World Books
    I feel your pain. Glad to hear you buy some of those books at Better World Books. Did you know you can send books to us as well? Then you can pick which non-profit literacy partner will benefit from any subsequent sale of those books. Here are two ways to send books:
    (1) Mail the books postage paid to Better World Books; Donation; 55740 Currant Road; Mishawaka, IN 46545
    (2) Go to http://www.betterworldbooks.com/buyback.aspx and enter ISBNs. If your buyback total is at least five dollars or you choose to donate at least three books, shipping is free! We pay for shipping when you use the pre-paid USPS Media Mail label we provide at checkout. We mostly buy textbooks at this time, though there are some mass-market books we’ll pay you for. And if we can’t buy a book, chances are we’ll accept it as a donation.
    BWB Marketing Guy

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