When to Consolidate (or Not)

One thing I’ve mentioned time and time again is my need for additional space for my books, and the need to (very sadly) get rid of some due to said limitations.

Just over a year ago, I was lucky enough to get a Kindle for an amazingly low price (only the new WiFi-only editions are lower priced) and I’ve loved it. And in the past year or so, it’s meant that I’ve been able to swap out some print edition books with electronic copies.

The easiest ones to replace were books that’ve fallen out of copyright, of course. So my copies of books like Alice in Wonderland, Dubliners, Howards End, and Jane Eyre (to name just a few examples) were donated to the library, and free ebooks from Project Gutenburg took their place. But it’s everything else, of course, that’s a bit harder to simply replace. Although some times I’ve been lucky, like the time that (and to this day I’m not sure if it was a pricing error or an unannounced great deal) that a whole slew of Iain M. Banks books were knocked down to 99 cents. That sort of thing. So that’s helped thin the herd a great deal. (I do wish there was a program where if you sent back mint editions of books, or pledged to give them to your library, that you could exchange them for some ebooks, though.) But still, there are a lot of books that I’m just not willing to buy an additional copy of in the name of saving space. So that’s a little frustrating.

And of course, there are some books that even if I could swap out, I wouldn’t. Some first editions and signed limited editions, for instance, that sort of thing. And some sets of books that (even though I should) I just can’t bear to start breaking up. There’s something asthetically pleasing about them that makes me want them to keep sticking around.

On the other hand, I did make one important leap recently. One of my favorite publishers, Small Beer Press, is a company that I buy just about all of their books. It’s fun to walk by the shelf that has just about all of their titles on display. But in December and January, I picked up two books from them in ebook edition. It was a tough call at first, but at the end of the day I’m still getting the great publishing choices from them that I like, but my overly full bookshelves don’t have to strain that much more. And my copies of Under the Poppy and Redemption in Indigo were slightly cheaper than the print editions, so that’s an added bonus.

(I’m also careful to back up my ebooks in case of catastrophic computer failure, not only onto an external hard drive but also automatically onto an online backup service, lest the house itself burn down. So I’m in some ways more protected than with my actual books.)

Will I ever get rid of all my physical books? Of course not. The majority of them? Also probably not. But a sizable chunk? Eventually. And more and more, the new ones coming in won’t be physical ones. (Well, prose books anyway. Those pesky graphic novels are another story entirely, of course.) I’m sure whenever I move next, there will some very happy movers that there aren’t even more books to get carried into and out of the truck…

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