I hope Fred Bass and “The Editors” will forgive me for lifting his advice about getting rid of books:
My advice is to first clean out duplicates and books with repetitive information — why do you need six dictionaries? Next, remove all books with out-of-date information, like atlases and reference books. Political, economic and topical books should be the next category to sort through; you don’t really need that copy of Richard Simmons’ “Never-Say-Diet Book” (a 1981 best-seller), or a book on the future of the Democratic or Republican parties, written 20 years ago.1
One should eliminate books that are in poor condition unless they hold sentimental value and remove those you never intend to read again.
Once you have weeded out the duplicates, the out-of-date material and those moldy, unreadable tomes, make sure to note any first editions or autographed books, as they could be valuable if they are in good condition. Put them aside and store them properly — away from direct sunlight and humidity. You might consider investing in some Mylar, as that is the only proven way to keep a valuable book in perfect condition.
I went through the pain last summer (2008, that is) and I’m more or less trying to figure out what to do with the different parts of my library in about a year’s time. Getting rid of old textbooks and books bought for a specific project is the easy bit, weeding out fiction and stuff bought for personal entertainment is much, much trickier. Still, there is something comforting in reading that other people make the same mistakes as I do when it comes to buying books.
- For “Democratic or Republican parties, insert relevant European party or “the European Union” [↩]