Recently I heard a world famous organizing expert say that you just shouldn’t have books anymore. No need to stash, store, and stack those tomes, says he. Just use digitized books. No need to waste space on volumes of books, some of which you will never crack open again.
One question I field frequently at my seminars is how to store collections of books. Okay. Our organizing expert is partially right, I think. Personally, I enjoy reading for entertainment on my Kindle. But, if I’m reading for knowledge or information, I prefer to read it in a good old-fashioned book. I love to underline important passages and dog ear the pages. I scribble notes in the margins and on the inside of the back cover (to make a personalized index). I love the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of its pages. So, I have books. Hard copy, paper turning, space eating books.
Here’s my best book advice. If you’re running out of space for book storage, go through the books and keep on the shelves the most useful and needed ones. Storing books is just like storing anything else. If you use it a lot, put it in a handy spot. If you don’t – either get rid of it or store it out of the way somewhere. For example, I used to keep all my cookbooks in the kitchen. When I needed more shelf space I decided to keep in the kitchen only the cookbooks I used frequently. The rest were placed in a different room on a bookshelf. I didn’t get rid of them – but I opened up two feet of needed kitchen storage space by moving them.
Here’s another experience I had years ago helping a friend organize her home office. There was a bookshelf in the room that seemed to be a catchall that everyone in the family favored. She wanted to use it as a bookshelf – not a stash spot. So, we emptied the shelf and began placing books on the shelves. I saw my friend take a handful of books and she was just about to put them on the shelf that was just below eye level (in other words, the best real estate on the shelf). I asked her what the books were. She told me that her husband collected them. I asked her if he ever looked at them or showed them to people when they came over. She said he didn’t ever look at them. He just collected them. Well, not only did those books not go on those high priority shelves, they didn’t even make it on the entire bookshelf. They were safely stored in another area of the home.
After placing your books on the shelves, go through the leftovers. Do you want to keep all of them ? Is it possible to get digital copies of them instead? Do they have some specific sentimental value? Remember, the amount of space you have to work with determines how much you can keep. Do you have a place to box up and store some? (If so, be sure to make a note of the titles and where the box is stored.)
Here are some suggestions for where to get rid of books:
Check out Books For Soldiers on the Internet. Also, Operation Paperback sends books to military personnel and their families. Libraries don’t usually accept donations, but some do – so check to see if your local library is one of them. Also, sometimes libraries collect books that they can sell from time to time. Check out justgive.org. throughthebars.org (books for inmates); paperbackswap.com. You can find out more about each of these on the Internet. Many cities have used book dealers that buy and sell used books. You usually don’t get a huge amount for your books, but you do get something and it’s a great way to clean out your book collection.
I hope there will always be such a thing as old school books. Even if they take up space and collect dust.