What to do with old books? (Note: this is a long read)

Drakon

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333
Like many people, I love books. And like many people, I love books too much. I’m 47 and I’ve held onto just about every book I’ve ever bought. I spent a year in Australia 20 years ago, and before I came home I sent a box of books that I’d read in those 12 months home to Ireland via surface mail!

Have I looked at those books since? Ehhhhh.



My wife would love if I just got rid of them! But it seems such a waste.

I’d various plans on making the books a “feature” in a room. My latest plan was a single shelf, about a foot down from the ceiling, running the entire length of the wall (or maybe all four walls), jam-packed with my books.



But is there any point of holding onto them? There are only a few that I’ve read more than once, e.g. Trainspotting, Generation X or No Logo. I’m unlikely to read any of the rest a second time. There are some that I’ve never read, i.e. I haven’t got around to them yet. There are some that I’ll never read. There are some that are crap, e.g. Prozac Nation, some that are disappointing, e.g. Vernon God Little, and some that I just do not get, e.g. The Moors Last Sigh.



There are some I will retain for reference purposes, like gardening books or cook books.



But the vast majority are just CLUTTER. This is how my wife sees them. This is what my mothers books were after her passing. This is what these books will be when I pass. And right now, they are just clutter.



I still haven’t rubbished the idea of the single end-to-end shelf. It’s something I could do myself but I fear it’ll just be a different form of clutter and a dust trap too.



Taking them to a second hand bookshop is probably out: do these even exist anymore?

Taking them to a charity shop is out: after the scandals of Console/Goal/ReHab etc., and anecdotal evidence of staff cherry picking.

I could slowly get through them by using them to light the stove. We light the stove nine months of the year. But paper tends to produce an inordinate amount of ash and I’m always wary of the prescient Heinrich Heine quote, “where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too.”

Give them away to a library: I don’t think such library’s exist in Ireland as elsewhere?



I’m leaning towards the DoneDeal option. Advertising the books in bulk (Ian McEwan books, or misc travel books). There are a few academic books that may garner a reasonable price on eBay.

I’m very familiar with selling on DoneDeal (see above reference to my mothers passing: books, furniture, electrical, etc.)



What is leftover after, say, nine months I’ll disperse by other means. The money I’ll get I’ll squirrel away and this time next year... I’ll go on an Amazon splurge!



No!



Maybe a bottle of Midleton whiskey. Something special but will be fully consumed.



Well, there are my thoughts on old books (aka literary litter), what are yours?
 

Zebedee

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74
Had the same problem. Did a big clear out a year ago. Took them to oxfam in dun laoghaire. All were gratefully received. Then bought a kindle so the same problem would not arise again. Love the kindle.
 

Peanuts20

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81
Mine all go to the SVP. Some I keep for sentimental reasons (got them as presents etc) but most go to charity shops. Some other thoughts

  • Any house clearance companies who auction goods off near you?. They may be prepared to sell some as job lots. Even if you only got a tenner a box, it all adds up. Just check that you have no first editions or anything that might be valuable
  • there is an app where they buy old books (names escapes me and they only pay pence), you scan the barcode but you'll have the hassle of packing them up
  • Can any be donated to your local school library?
Failing that, chuck em in your recycling bin
 

NoRegretsCoyote

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The only books worth holding on to are reference books and non-fiction books on a specialist topic.

I have only re-read about 1% of the novels I've ever read.

Almost every book you have is already preserved in multiple libraries.

Don't hang on to them for your kids. My dad has several hundred sic-fi books from the 70s in the attic and I've never looked at one.

I threw out a pile of old books, CDs and DVDs a while ago and felt much better for it.
 

hfp

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144
Not much help, but my solution to this problem was to box them up and store them in my parents garage!!! Only ones I kept were cookbooks, which have a dedicated shelf in my dining room, and travel books.

Planning on moving house to somewhere bigger in the next year or so, so will re-visit the problem then!!!
 

Nutso

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498
I did similar with a box of books in Oz almost 20 years ago! But in the end keeping up with the books was too much. I eventually donated them all - some to friends and others to charity shops. As with Zebedee, I bought a kindle and haven't looked back since. While I still love "real" books (sometimes smell them in the shops :D) the kindle is much more convenient and I can have 3000 books in my handbag.
 

so-crates

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Went through a similar crisis a few years ago. That was when I signed up with my local library, it has been wonderful. I didn't give away all my books but I did go through and catalogue everything and get rid of the ones I just knew I never, ever wanted to touch again. I boxed them up and brought them down to the library, they will take ones that may be of use to them and pass on the others to charity. They were very happy to accept mine. I haven't stopped buying books completely but I have drastically cut down and I have re read some books since and not just old favourites.
 

Firefly

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+1 on the Kindle. The Kindle app is pretty good too if you have a tablet.

Check out Today's Deals on Amazon in the Kindle Book store - I've picked up a good few books I am interested in for 99p
 

hazelgreen

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83
Trinity College has an annual sale of donated books over a weekend in aid of funds for the library. They accept donations of all types all year around. There is a reception/foyer to a college building on Pearse Street just before the Westland Row junction on way into town. There is a parking space there which is handy to use to pull in... near path and clear of the buslane. You could phone to check that this arrangement still stands.
 

Tintagel

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387
UCD has a space just outside the internal entrance to the library where you can leave books.

Unfortunately old books begin to smell after awhile and attract paper mice...
 

SDMXTWO

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99
If you stopped using triple+ spacing between


the lines





It would'nt be such a long read.

BTW my 2c worth is just get rid of them to the best cause you can or swap them all in a charity shop for something you can actually use. I keep digital book collections on a USB drive so I just copy the one I need to my phone and have it read to me as I do other things.
 

noproblem

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1,710
I'd be with the OP in making a nice book shelf around the room. It might be just me but I do love to see shelves of books and get great pleasure in looking for something to read from the many on display so to speak. Go ahead and make a nice library type surround in your room and if others don't like it then that's their hard luck. Don't use MDF to make them, invest a few quid in some nice timber, you won't be sorry and I bet if you do a good job the others might just surprise you and love the finished product..
 

AlbacoreA

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The only books worth holding on to are reference books and non-fiction books on a specialist topic.

I have only re-read about 1% of the novels I've ever read.

Almost every book you have is already preserved in multiple libraries.

Don't hang on to them for your kids. My dad has several hundred sic-fi books from the 70s in the attic and I've never looked at one.

I threw out a pile of old books, CDs and DVDs a while ago and felt much better for it.
Almost none of the books I have kept are in libraries and I re-read my favorite fiction over and over.

Kids read about 10% of my old books. They are too young though.

But most of my books I give to the library swap, or xmas fairs.
 

paddytheape

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28
Keep the 'quality' books and donate the 'trash', nice bookshelves are a wonderful source of comfort to me but a long single shelf will not cut it, it just won't look good. Do some research and make the books a feature of your room, they are a big part of who you are and will continue to give you great pleasure if displayed and stored nicely/properly, a glass cabinet, easily picked up in a charity shop, a good option. Failing that, a nice three or four tiered shelving unit that suits your current room decor will satisfy all. Hold onto your favourites, even if you never look at them again. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Build that shelf, your books and you both deserve it.
 

peemac

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639
Sort them out.

Pile 1 - books you want to keep

Pile 2 - hardcover books and "old" books.
Sell these in boxes of 50-60 books on donedeal. Buyers will be pubs and cafés to use as decoration

Pile 3 - everything else - mainly paperbacks. Charity shop.
 

lukegriffen

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149
For pile 3 above, I volunteer in a charity shop & almost all paperback fiction more than 6 years old gets thrown out, as it won't sell.
 

muinteoir

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Some of the libraries have a table/box that you can put free books into that people can take. You could also give the books away on Freecycle.
 
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