karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Throwing away books

Last Friday's “Interesting posts on writing” by jongibbs has an excellent post by writerjenn called Books as objects that discussed the human urge to own things and why ebooks would not satisfy that itch.

One reason I love the idea of ebooks, though, is the flip side of that argument. Owning a book only in "e" form means I don't need to find a way to discard those books that I own but longer want (or in some cases, never wanted). In spite of today's subject line, I never actually throw books into the trash. I either take them to a used bookstore (which requires real effort, so I seldom do it) or I donate them.

And because it requires so little effort, my favored method of donating books is to wait for a charity to call me looking for donations that I can leave on my porch, and ask, "Do you take books?" The answer most recently was yes, and so I am culling my shelves. It intrigued me, in light of Friday's reading, to consider what made me toss a book into the donation box and what made me keep it on my still-crowded shelves. Generally, the books I kept fell into these categories:

1) Books signed by the author (or that I hope to get signed by the author). There are generally either by personal friends or writers I see at conventions and still admire (there are a tiny number of writers I see at conventions whose work I admire but I no longer desire to own their books because they are so bad at hiding their egos I don't want any reminder of them)

2) Books I loved when I was younger. These include old Andre Nortons, mostly purchased used, a few classics like Mark Twain and Jane Austen, and the almost the entire oeuvre of Georgette Heyer.

3) Books I hope my kids might want to read. Neither my son or my daughter has gotten into e-reading, at least so far. I have hope my son might get into it, but my daughter won't bite until such time as it is no longer in any way geeky to be seen reading on a Kindle or a Nook. Ergo, if I want them to read a book, right now it needs to be printed.

And of course, my husband lives here, too, so he had a veto over any deportation, but in fact, there were very few books he saved because, as he said, if he really wanted to read it again, he would get in on his Kindle (yes! a convert!).

It's funny, because I recently actually read a printed book, the first in over a year. I had bought the hardback ages ago and wanted to read it but didn't want to pay for a Kindle copy. I found that there's really not than much difference in the reading experience except in print I needed to keep a bookmark handy, and when I came to a word I didn't know, it frustrated me not to be able to put my finger on that word to get a definition.

And of course, as I tossed a book into the box, I was aware of the irony that, in donating it to be sold for pennies on the original dollar, there was nothing better I could do for the author because used bookstore are a good way to acquire new readers. I'm also aware that I can't donate ebooks, but since ebooks offer the "free sample" feature they already have a built-in way for authors to find new readers.

I'm wondering how everyone else deals with book overflow, so I created a poll to find out!

Poll #1609246 Rate yourself as a book hoarder

As far as print books, the following describes me best:

I never, ever throw away, sell, or discard a book; books are sacred objects
I only dispose of books I actively disliked
I try to find a new home for books I know I'll never reread again
I rarely re-read books so I tend to sell them or give them away most of the time
Once I've read a book, I really don't see a need to keep it around
Some other category that I will describe in a comment

free hit counter
Tags: books, e-books, ebooks

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic