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I got to talking with my partner, with whom I'll be moving into a significantly smaller apartment (700 sq ft plus rooftop of same)... and we agreed that my book buying habit is a bit excessive given where we live!!! I suddenly panicked at the thought of my books having no space in the new place, but even more, not having space to live once the books move in.
The problem with this city is that apartments are small, rent is steep, the air humid (and thus unkind to books in the long run)... and the problem with me is that I love my books, buy at will, and can't keep a relationship with a library that doesn't involve fines and frantic removal of flags and sticky notes at the return desk...
I do plan to move back home (across the Pacific) in a few years, but renting a container to ship all and sundry back never even crossed my mind until now. Yikes.
In the spirit of metafilter, I ask: What should I do? Do you think I have a problem that needs to be fixed pronto or can I skirt around the problem and find a way to be happy as the books pile up around me?
I'm all for buying books and figuring out what to do with them later! My apartment is definitely overflowing but that doesn't stop me. You just have to get more and more creative.
The non-school books might be a different situation, if you have a lot of those.... I think the suggestion of sending them to someone at home is a good one.
I also got rid of some of the books I bought for graduate school and regret it to this day. As long as you have someone at home who is willing to hold them for you, find the cheapest (probably slowest) means of shipping them and send them along to wait for you. That way you can do a box at a time as you can afford it (unless you are one of those rich graduate students, unlike all the ones I knew!).
I was able to cull some books from my collection. I haven't unloaded them all yet, but I'll get to that someday. :) They mostly fell into two groups: 1) Fiction I had read and didn't think it was likely I'd read it again (a lot of Stephen King, Michael Chrichton type stuff). 2) Books I'd been given as gifts and wasn't about to finish (or in some cases, start) (Al Franken, Laura Schlessinger).
Anything in my subject area I tend to cling to, even some incredibly out of date or non-technical popular stuff.
But don't feel too bad. I'm in my late twenties, and there are still a few hundred books of mine at my parents
When my collection was smaller and still developing I hung on to everything, but I'm definitely willing to part with (some of my) books now. Like bjza unappetising second reads in fiction might be a top category.
I've heard so much about it, but on the recommendation of Sniv and ejj, I've opened a new window to browse BookMooch in earnest. There is something very appealing about sending your unwanted book to someone who wants it.
Slow postage back home is something I've considered too & might instigate once I'm moved into the new space and settled. Stacking suitcases--it's kind of nice to hear that I'm not the only one!
Of course I like the idea of keeping books in the subject I'm studying--saving trips to the library, useful for future reference, etc. Collections management--like Ilithyia says you have to be really creative!
Wanted to add that I use BookMooch too, and have grown to completely love it. If you ever want to weed out some less pricy or easy to find books from your shelves, that site is a great way to do it... One strategy is to let others mooch those basics from you where you're living now and then, later, once you've moved to your next destination, you can simply *mooch those same titles again* if/when you need them!
When I make an overseas move down the road, I plan to do that with most of my 'classic' novels and such... the ones that aren't filled with important marginalia, anyway! :)
PS, Here's an example of my own Bio Page and mooching history -- you'll see I've found it to be a VERY useful site.
My stash is down about 1200 books and a lot of people benefited.
On the other hand, I still have far too many books that you cannot pry my fingers off of!! -- especially that academic stuff.
Since my post here a couple months ago I have signed up for a Bookmooch account, but haven't actually traded anything yet.
I've half-heartedly picked a few titles to donate to charity, books which are still sitting in a box under the stairs.
I admit I was bemused by your suggestion, christychesnet, which cheerfully encourages acquisition... and then I went out and bought a new set of bookshelves to accommodate my away-from-home library anyway. Those round the room bookshelves are my next step. :)
So here I am resigned to my habit... until I reach 9.000 books maybe!?
First, one reason I was keeping all of my books is for fear that at some point I would need them as reference. My rule now is that if I keep a book for two years and do not need to refer to it during that time, I figure out a way to 'get rid of' it (I recently donated a few hundred to a local community college).
After my wife and I moved the first time, we both decided to get ebook readers (amazon kindle) so that from here forth, we buy most of our books digitally, so that they don't take up any room.
Yes, it is hard, but I am a firm believer that keeping too many books can be more trouble than its worth. You pay to move them (boxes, movers, or with your back) and have to store them. Most of the books I have kept, I have found that I didn't use. It is like keeping an extra set of dishes on the chance that you will someday use them, only to find out that you did not need them.
But then, I don't think my book collection is so out of hand. I'm still under 1k.
Also, sometimes one does have to ask oneself whether it is worth holding onto a book for x years so that one can refer to it a few times. That, of course, is an individual judgment call that different people will answer differently.
I am packing up to move in a couple weeks to a diff apartment here in Boston, I live in a studio apartment and I have filled 10 moving boxes with books.. basically more than I have of anything else. I started to think I needed to start trading or donating some books again (if I can find the willpower to let go) and then I found a borders gift card with $50 on it.
I think its god's way of saying, "hey! you can never have too many books!"
so I'm leaving it at that.
We are doing that packing up to move process right now. Probably around 2-3k books between the two of us. We've ordered 80 of the "book boxes" from UHaul and we've also sent off hundreds of books to the used book shops and thrift stores. *sigh*
I have had absolutely zero problem with my kindle. I love the device. What problems are you referring to?
You really should try it.
Another advantage I've just thought of, though. No need for my husband to know how many books I buy. Hmmmm - starting to look quite handy.
ETA - I see from your profile that your reading preferences include a lot of academic and non-fiction stuff. Do you ever have trouble getting these in e-format?
The great thing is convenience: I can access amazon.com from my device, order a book, and have it downloaded in about 1 minute. Also, if I am unsure of a book, I can download a sample (generally the introduction) for free.
I cannot reccomend the device strongly enough. My recco would be to go to amazon, do a few searches, and see how many of the books you would buy are available for kindle format. I'm sure that most will be.
I have just started a thread for the "graduate students" group about ereaders. I want to see what others' experience with them has been. I love mine.
In the end though, after a few pages you forget what you're reading from and just enjoy the book. AND they can be downloaded anywhere anytime instantly, which is a huge perk. I still buy books (went on a borders spree and bought 6 today!) but I also buy books on the kindle app. I don't see why you can't do both :)
BTW: I started a new thread in the "graduate students" group about "eReaders". We might want to bring the discussion over there so as not to sidetrack this one.
But like you said, it's a cost-benefits issue. For me, the benefit of having what I need on hand in my home library outweighs the inconvenience of moving boxes of books. I also do a fair amount of rereading.
And of course, there are those hard to find pieces that I always snatch up and keep (i.e. accompanying exhibition books), even if I'm not sure I'll need it anytime soon.
I remind myself that on cost/benefit analysis, I could not have known which books would be useful in advance, and that keeping them all "just in case" was not a realistic option. But I really do wish that I had such forethought. It would make things a lot easier.
Now, I have to get the books from the U of Delaware library, and try to remember where the relevant sections are (as I don't have my highlights.)
Yes, it was a pain to move all the books, and next time it will be even worse because I've at least doubled my collection! But I can't imagine not having my books! I like not knowing what to read because I have so many options, and as an English major I feel like it is completely acceptable to have books for every possible situation!
The only reason I haven't added to my piles lately is because I'm broke -- it has nothing to do with this ridiculous notion that there is such a thing as "too many books!"