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The Great Book Purge of 2014
Old 12-03-2014, 01:42 PM   #1
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The Great Book Purge of 2014

One of the first items on my post-retirement list was to considerably trim my possessions, particularly the hundreds of books I've collected over decades (many of which I've never gotten around to reading, along with others I've read and am unlikely to revisit).

In the process, I've come to realize that my collecting arose from living in an era of limited access to information and entertainment. Now, with easy electronic access to nearly infinite new and old material, there's no need to do this anymore. If I were in my 20s now, I doubt I'd have any physical books at all.

I can't bring myself to get rid of them all in one fell swoop, though. Has anyone else here experienced something similar in ER?
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Old 12-03-2014, 01:47 PM   #2
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Yes. Repeating myself, but I fixed the issue years ago by allowing myself only one bookshelf. Once it was full, something had to go if I bought another book. It may sound simple-minded but it's worked for me. My inspiration was my parents who (still) have 5 bookshelves full of books, 90% of which they haven't picked up in 20 years - that never made any sense to me, they're really just in the way/taking up space unnecessarily.

I sold books on half.com, gave a few to friends, donated some to local groups and our library, and just threw some away.

I also finally realized there are very few books I ever reread, so I just wait until they appear at our library, check them out, and read them, and return. If I want to reread any of them, I can just check them out again. The few new books that I "have to have" I mostly purchase as eBooks now.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:00 PM   #3
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When we downsized, we got rid of hundreds of books. We made 3 piles: The books we did not care to keep (donated to goodwill), the books we wanted to keep and that were available in electronic format (for those, we donated the paper book and bought the ebook), and finally the books we wanted to keep but that were not available in electronic format (mostly art books). We kept the latter, roughly 100 paper books gracing our office shelves.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:04 PM   #4
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Ditto for CDs, VHS, DVD, Bluray discs. Everything is easily accessible in digital format. In my prep for ER, I have been donating them but not fast enough.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:07 PM   #5
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Even though I won't ER until next year, I have been culling my work-related technical library (what an out-of-body experience). I have 35yrs of tomes that are going out the door to our local used book reseller for store credit. Or to the local VVA group for auction.

And I have been periodically culling other books that I thought were "neat" and worth saving for future reference. Well, the future is now and I'll never refer to them again, so off they go.

Those homes in the WSJ with ceiling high bookcases and hinged mobile ladders look really neat but I need the wall space for all of the other valuable junk I've collected over life (like every cell phone I've owned since the '80s, etc).

Is there a de-cluttering sub-forum here somewhere?
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:10 PM   #6
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When we downsized, we got rid of hundreds of books. We made 3 piles: The books we did not care to keep (donated to goodwill), the books we wanted to keep and that were available in electronic format (for those, we donated the paper book and bought the ebook), and finally the books we wanted to keep but that were not available in electronic format (mostly art books). We kept the latter, roughly 100 paper books gracing our office shelves.
That's a good system and pretty close to my own, although I'm donating the discarded books to the public library, which I use to check out e-books.

You also mention the one category that I don't think translates well to e-books: large, colorful art books. Darn it. Would love to shed those pounds.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:17 PM   #7
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Ditto for CDs, VHS, DVD, Bluray discs. Everything is easily accessible in digital format. In my prep for ER, I have been donating them but not fast enough.
I draw the line at Blu-ray discs, for these reasons...

All About Why Blu-ray Is Still Better Than Streaming Today
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by wishin&hopin View Post
One of the first items on my post-retirement list was to considerably trim my possessions, particularly the hundreds of books I've collected over decades (many of which I've never gotten around to reading, along with others I've read and am unlikely to revisit).

In the process, I've come to realize that my collecting arose from living in an era of limited access to information and entertainment. Now, with easy electronic access to nearly infinite new and old material, there's no need to do this anymore. If I were in my 20s now, I doubt I'd have any physical books at all.

I can't bring myself to get rid of them all in one fell swoop, though. Has anyone else here experienced something similar in ER?
Katrina. That was 2005. Now I'm trying to keep it down to one shelf and use the internet. Haven't got a Kindle or the like yet but leaning that direction.

heh heh heh -
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:18 PM   #9
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Libraries around here are happy to take donated books. They will even give you a receipt for tax purposes if you want one.

They won't accept textbooks, but most others are fine.

Hardly any of the donated books will ever appear on a library shelf, but they have annual sales (maybe semiannual?) where people show up in droves to buy cheap books. The library uses the funds to help run their operations, so everyone benefits.

I've donated many hundreds of books this way over the years. It's an easy way to get them out of the house (even though I admit it hurts to part with some of them despite being very unlikely rereads).
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:20 PM   #10
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You also mention the one category that I don't think translates well to e-books: large, colorful art books. Darn it. Would love to shed those pounds.
I think that art books would look fantastic on my iPad's retina screen. I don't know why they are not made more widely available in e-book formats.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:44 PM   #11
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I went from 85 large boxes of books back in 2000, to about 6-8 boxes of books now. It's hard to tell how many, because they aren't in boxes any more. They fit in my 5-shelf barrister's bookcase plus a 4-shelf bookcase, with room left over.

Most of them were donated to the public library. I donated some when I moved from my apartment into my present house, but most were donated back in 2010 when we were planning to move to Missouri. I have not acquired any books other than Kindle books since that time.

The dismal anticipation of moving books provides tremendous motivation to divest oneself of them.


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I can't bring myself to get rid of them all in one fell swoop, though. Has anyone else here experienced something similar in ER?

I couldn't either. My books meant the world to me! I culled them repeatedly to reduce the numbers to where they are. And now, honestly I don't miss those that are gone as much as I thought I would. I think I could get rid of all but a shelf full of what is left. But, I'm not in the process of moving so I am procrastinating.
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Old 12-03-2014, 02:50 PM   #12
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We've had to simply throw books away since our library refuses to accept them. They claim it is too expensive to handle the volume of books they used to get when most of them they couldn't use. Recyclers don't want them because of the bindings. What a waste...Everything I read today is on my kindle or iPad.
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Old 12-03-2014, 03:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by wishin&hopin View Post
One of the first items on my post-retirement list was to considerably trim my possessions, particularly the hundreds of books I've collected over decades (many of which I've never gotten around to reading, along with others I've read and am unlikely to revisit).

In the process, I've come to realize that my collecting arose from living in an era of limited access to information and entertainment. Now, with easy electronic access to nearly infinite new and old material, there's no need to do this anymore. If I were in my 20s now, I doubt I'd have any physical books at all.

I can't bring myself to get rid of them all in one fell swoop, though. Has anyone else here experienced something similar in ER?
Yep. It was actually cathartic to get rid of the long useless medical textbooks and gigantic chemistry books from college. We're working on the smaller stuff next year.

Started the process last year before ER. One of the first things we bought when we got married was a set of 3 huge bookshelves. Our first and only credit expense our first year of marriage. DH had an album collection, and after 4 yrs of college and 4 yrs of med school, my book collection was ridiculous.

I actually threw away most of the textbooks as they were hopelessly out of date. They cost hundreds of dollars--I paid more for textbooks in med school than I did tuition and fees. What a waste...of space, of trees. Some books can be donated. And now all our paper is recyclable, so I can throw paperbacks into the recycling bin. Less guilt...
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Old 12-03-2014, 03:51 PM   #14
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I have been struggling with this issue for some time; still not yet ER'd but getting closer.

These drop boxes have started popping up in my metro area: Drop Box Locations

I am planning to start using these instead of trash/recycle bins and hoping this will make parting with my dear books less painful.
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Old 12-03-2014, 04:23 PM   #15
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I think that art books would look fantastic on my iPad's retina screen. I don't know why they are not made more widely available in e-book formats.
+1

Viewing images on a backlit screen is often a better experience than seeing them in print. It was the one factor that made it easy for me to make the move from printing my photos to storing and viewing them all electronically.
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:04 PM   #16
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Goodwill takes all my books. They sell them and (I suppose) dispose of those that sit too long.
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:20 PM   #17
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I got rid of a lot when we moved several years ago (we had tons of built-in bookcases at our previous house, and much less here), but still have too many. I'll purge a few when I look at the bookshelf occasionally.

Our church has created a "Bookwall" (several bookcases in the fellowship hall). People bring in books they don't want. Volunteers arrange them logically and anyone can buy a hardback for $2 or a paperback for $1. They take books no one wants to the local used bookstore. This brings in close to $200/month and provides a source of reading material for those on a tight budget who aren't near a library.
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Old 12-03-2014, 07:06 PM   #18
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We had to deal with that with FIL, about 5 bookcases full, and sold/donated to a used book store or donated to the library. As with braumeister the library probably will sell the books rather than put them on the shelf and that's fine. They still end up in the hands of someone who wants it.
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Old 12-03-2014, 07:45 PM   #19
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I still have a lot of my college texts and work related books. I'm going recycle the college texts and give my work related books to my former company. I'll have some vacant shelves on my bookshelves, but that's ok


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Old 12-03-2014, 10:17 PM   #20
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Yes we've eliminated our entire book collection mainly by digitizing them and throwing away the physical book. This is actually not that hard with the right tools: a stack cutter to chop the spine off, a sheet fed document scanner, and OCR software (included with the scanner).

What wasn't digitized was either donated, sold, or recycled.
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