I’m quite taken by Lawrence Tabak’s column, linked below, on getting rid of books. I face the same dilemma, but not quite in the same way.
When I moved to Georgia from Louisiana at age twenty-two to take my first and only job, I had everything I owned in the trunk of my car. For a lot of years I resisted saving anything and had quite a few possession purges. Then it began.
First, I began to collect records. Then, ever so slowly, my book collection grew. I bought a VCR and began to save movies, first from those taped from TV, then those I bought outright. Then more books. Then DVRs. And still more books.
Technology has been good to me when it comes to purging: it miniaturized and ephemeralized almost everything. My stereo system is small enough now to place in a dresser drawer, and three-inch speakers talk as loudly as my ancient Electrostatic ones did. Technology did away first with records, then tapes, then CDs. Now my music is bought, played, and retained in digital form. Ditto movies.
But my book collection is where I still have a problem. I’ve read on a Kindle and an iPad, and both provide me with good reading experiences, and still I buy the hardbacks, the trade paperbacks. Some of that has to do with the fact that I’m a writer; I traffic in books, although I can’t yet say I make a living at it. Just yesterday I spent a long afternoon at a bookstore signing I’d worked hard to get, talking about books and writing, selling and signing my books. And so the print medium still has me in its grasp, despite my desire to lessen that load.
I am resolved to get rid of a major portion of my books – some I swore I’d never let go. Still, I know it’s going to be a difficult and somewhat painful process. And I know I’ll never be able to travel with all my possessions in the trunk of my car.
Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.