In this article,
the Lincoln Journal Star
includes my advice regarding how to downsize your book collection:
November 08, 2014 11:30 pm • By KATHRYN CATES MOORE / Lincoln Journal Star
Decorative Asian statues and a framed art print bring style, color and contrast to shelves filled with books. The effect is decorated but not cluttered, and the books aren’t overshadowed by the decorative pieces.
Book lovers are not going to go away, even with the continued popularity of electronic readers. They like everything about their wordy collectibles -- from the weight of the strong spine to the beautifully bound covers and the way the pages feel when you turn them to get to the end of the story.
And even if you’ve opted for an e-reader, some surveys show that only 15 percent of those consumers say they quit buying print books.
In addition to the physical beauty of many books, there is often an emotional attachment.
“I would suggest that keeping books where they are visible is like displaying photographs from vacation -- they're reminders of meaningful experiences,” said Pat Leach, executive director of Lincoln City Libraries.
Yet she is “intrigued by our attachment to the book, which in many cases is distinct from our feeling for the writing itself,” but says she is a librarian, not a psychologist, “so I can't explain it.”
And Leach has seen all kinds of arrangements, from remarkably well-organized shelves to shelves arranged by color and height to dusty piles sitting all over a home.
If you are going to share your space with these bound treasures, it helps to find some middle ground or at least method of organization. Aesthetically, it would be nice if that middle ground involves more than just plain Jane bookshelves placed in every room and crammed with everything from a favorite college classroom classic to the most recent graphic novel.
Experts have different solutions, and in the end, it is up to the book lover to decide what works best.
One approach, in a recent Washington Post story, was to clear all of your shelves, then begin grouping them -- either by size, color, subject, author or alphabetically.
Once organized in this way, blend horizontal and vertical stacks on shelves to create visual interest. Use the horizontal stacks as bookends. This works especially well for coffee-table books, which are often too tall for standard bookshelves.
Break up the books with other treasured objects you own -- a glass vase, ornate bowl or small frame.
If you want to think outside the bookshelf, you might stack books carefully to be used as an end table near a comfy chair or create a narrow shelf that runs the length of your headboard to be hung over your bed.
You can be a book lover without having books spilling from every corner. “I tend not to be much of a sentimentalist when it comes to owning books," said Leach. She has a finite amount of space and is “pretty ruthless” about getting rid of items if she runs out of space. “And of course, I get rid of them by donating them to the library!”
Another popular solution is the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. Sometimes that involves boxes or plastic tubs, in which case the books really aren’t very accessible.
But that doesn’t work for some book lovers. “I can barely tolerate the idea of owning books and keeping them in boxes,” said Leach. “I do think that if you own them, you should have them out where you can see them.”
A kinder, gentler hidden arrangement can be found behind the doors of built-in entertainment centers. Interior designer Deb Ahlstedt of Interiors Joan, said many family rooms have space for books that are hidden. “It does keep them from getting dusty,” she said.
Ultimately, you may decide you have too many books and need to pare down the collection.
In that case, begin culling and then live with the results.
Here are some very practical tips from Laura Coufal, a professional organizer from Wahoo, which she gives to clients who want to downsize their book collections:
* Don’t keep books that you already have read. One of the biggest reasons people have too many books is that they keep the ones they already have read. They do this especially if they enjoyed the book, thinking they may want to read it again someday. The reality is that people rarely ever get around to reading the same book twice. I recommend keeping only books that have not yet been read, especially if they are fictional or bibliographies.
* Donate books that fall into this category to the local library. The upside to this is that if you ever do get around to wanting to read them again, they will be available for you to check out.
*Get cash for your books by selling them to a used-book store or donate them to organizational fundraising book sales. Getting rid of books that no longer serve you actually can be quite profitable, especially if they are hardcover books. Many local used-book stores will buy your books and pay cash for them. Donating them can be used as an itemized tax deduction.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.