Tips for managing overflowing bookshelves

Moving to ebooks will help you to find a balanced life among your (physical) bookshelves in the long term, but if you have a serious book surplus right now, help is needed. Our number one tip is to pack books that you may want to get rid of into a box and hide it for a month in a closet. If you find the box untouched after a few months, you can rest assured that those books were meant to be thrown out of your apartment. Here are a few more tips for managing books and bookshelves.

For every book lover, there comes a time when it is not possible to buy more bookshelves. There is not enough space in the world if you imagine that you can continue buying bookshelves that you are going to fill with books. Something has to go. We moved four years ago. We had adopted ebooks before the move, so it was clear that we use the opportunity to reduce the number of books and bookshelves in the new place. It succeeded well.
ipad tablet in a bookshelf
Books that we need in our work occupy some shelf space, but getting rid of two large bookshelves made a lot of space available for things we actually need in our daily life and work. In a closet, we still have a stash where three boxes full of books are waiting for their destiny. Their fate will be resolved on day, but we have already proven that we don’t really need those books. They are just something that we want to have, for now. Many boxes full of books have ended up in various places already.

Jessica Pryde at Bookriot has developed a book stack system for managing her book chaos. Here is her advice. Start by creating six stacks of books:

1. Never going to read it -stack. Give it to someone (or ask your local library).
2. Read it and liked it. Loan the book to a friend.
3. Enjoyed it. Wasn’t impressed.
4. What was that book about?
5. I haven’t read it yet.
6. I have to keep it. Don’t know why, but this book cannot leave my apartment.

Pack the books in stacks number 1, 2, 3 and 4 in bags or boxes and get rid of them. Simple and straightforward process. You need quite a lot of courage to do it, but if you can, you will be happy.

From our experience, we can tell that it is surprisingly difficult to carry out boxes full of books from an apartment when their fate is unknown (or even if it is known). That’s why we have to be absolutely sure that we are not throwing away anything we might regret later. Hiding book boxes in a closet works for us, because it tells us that if we haven’t missed, touched or needed books in those boxes in a while, they are ready to go.

How do we prevent new books filling up the space that was freed by obsolete books? Ebooks don’t require any shelf space.

ernster bookstore, book pyramid

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