Anyone a book collector? I'm more of an accumulator, and much to the dismay of my wife I've accumulated thousands (and thousands) of books. (Let's not even speak of the two air-conditioned storage rooms that I have to rent.)

It all started when I was reading a novel by John D. MacDonald forty or so years ago and realized that it was a paperback original. "Maybe people are throwing these things away," I thought. "But I won't."

Within my accumulation are some small collections, I suppose, if you want to look at it that way. I probably have one of the best collections of Harry Whittington's paperback novels around, and if you include the 8 signed hardcovers, it's a collection that some people might envy. A very few, granted, but some. There's also a pretty good Jim Thompson collection, and of course there are those John D. MacDonald books, including both editions of WEEP FOR ME.

The problem becomes one of "What will happen to all these books after I'm gone?" A friend of mine, George Kelley, solved that problem by donating his books to SUNY at Buffalo, where the library established The Kelley Collection. But George was lucky. Not many libraries are going to treat paperbacks with the care and respect that SUNY does. And besides, I can't bear to part with the books. They'll probably be right here after I've shuffled off this mortal coil. I'm afraid that my kids will have a big yard sale, with my signed Whittington hardbacks going for 10 cents each. I don't suppose it will bother me.

For the moment, I love sitting here in my little office room, surrounded by thousands (and thousands) of paperbacks. I feel like Scrooge McDuck in the money bin. I'd like to burrow through them like a gopher. I'd like to toss them in the air and let them hit me on the head. Not that hardbacks, though.

Anybody else as crazy as me? If you'd like to read about others who are, check out Nicolas Basbanes' A GENTLE MADNESS. It's a wonderful book.

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What I'd really hate is if the books just got tossed in a trash can.
I do give away paperbacks once I've read them (or post them on and I generally only buy hard copies that are first edition, signed. Mostly, I get books from my library. I gave away tons of books five years ago before I moved. Having said all that, you would think my house would be mostly book-free, but somehow I now have piles all over the place (not to mention all the paperbacks in the basement) and I'm thinking of converting my seldom-used dining room into a library ...
I gave away a lot of books when I moved here to Alvin, Texas, in 1983. I donated most of them to a public library, including my hardcover first of A IS FOR ALIBI. Maybe that's why I hang onto stuff now.
I am not in any way, shape or form a packrat... except when it comes to books. I come upon this fettish honestly since my father was the same way. In fact, there were two stores my father would go in for just one item and leave with half the store in his cart - Home Depot and ANY bookstore. Everytime he told my mom he was going to, say, Border's, she would double-check the bank balance. And recite a quick novina. He had THE most extensive library you'd ever want to own. Every genre. Hardback. Paperback. All categorized in our library downstairs. And on the bookshelves in the master bedroom. And those in the family room. And the hallway cabinets. And the children's bedrooms. And the floor-to-ceiling (more or less) cabinets donning the garage walls. Unbelievable collection my mom gave away to each of us eleven children after he passed away.

And my collection? Besides my dad's books, books from my childhood through the most recent one purchased last week fill my home - shelves, cabinets, drawers meant for VHS tapes, but used for books instead, in almost every room in our home. I've heard there are those who throw books out after having read them. I just don't get that. Even if there was a book I wasn't particularly fond of, that doesn't mean one of my children might not one day like it. Tastes are so subjective. Plus, my daughter who is a high school freshman remembered I had to read The Secret Life of Bees for book club a year or so ago, and even though I did not care for the book, I kept it. Because I am incapable of getting rid of books. Glad I did since her English Lit teacher required the class to bring a copy in today. Meant I didn't have to pay twice for a book I didn't like. Gotta love that.
You and I have a lot in common. My father was a packrat, but he had no books at all. I don't think he ever even read one of the ones I've written. But he accumulated just about everything else. He filled his house and his double garage. Then he bought the house next door and filled that, too. I now have many of his things in storage and in my own (far too small) house.
It's so funny what we will hang onto. With my children's school work, I only keep those items that are original. Not tests or other dime-a-dozen assignments. I only keep creative writing or artwork they have done. Not that their teacher has cut and pasted for them, or has written in for them, but what you can tell they have done with their own little hands, their own little minds.

And as far as donating books after we die, there were books of my dad's that the library or used bookstores would not take because they were truly obsolete. I'm talking about encyclopedia collections, although I even find those fascinating because it is just too cool to go back to an encyclopedia from the mid-60's where we were still so naive about something as commonplace today as landing on the moon. It is like taking your own little time machine into the past every time you read an entry.
Sigh... my name is Karen and I accumulate books.

We have a shelf in our loo, as well as a magazine rack and there are books stacked in the other corner as well.

One hallway has been redeveloped into a long bookcase. There are bookcases in every room and I'm still arguing that there is no reason why a bedhead can't accommodate a couple of hundred paperbacks with a little thought.

Mass construction planning is underway on the development of built in bookcases in the main lounge and spare bedrooms that will just have to wrap around the doors and windows. There's even been a fairly long and involved discussion about how much light is really required in a room when we could install skylights.

We're currently over 5,000 books in one 3 bedroom house which includes a large room devoted to a full-time home office and 2 people.

The dog's are increasingly worried about their sleeping arrangements.

We have recently recatalogued into opendb which runs on our own webserver - the theory being that himself, travelling for work, can leap on at anytime that he's confronted with a bookshop and buy herself a bribe that compensates her for staying home babysitting his precious cider apple trees and the chooks when he's swanning around the world :)
Sounds like a cozy arrangement. Maybe we should all band together and open one big library.
I don't know how many books we have... Couple thousand, maybe?

I'm to the point now, though, that I hardly keep any of the new ones I get. I pretty much just hold on to stuff I really want to read (but usually never get around to, so I get rid of it in a year or two), books by friends, books I've reviewed, and signed stuff. Even that is a prodigious haul.
So many books, so little time.
I like the "library branches" idea. Now if one of the houses next door would only go on sale. . . .
I've just joined a couple of days ago and decided to jump into this discussion. I don't know how to label myself. Here in my home office I am surrounded by books - reference books within reach, sports reference and sports coffee-table sized books on two shelves above my head, my sports journalism collection and favourite journalists (Hamill, Hemphill, Willie Morris, John McPhee, Bob Greene, etc.) on six shelves to my left and primarily books about books on another six shelves in the corner. Some of these I actually have used when writing my sports column. On top of the credenza or on the floor are seven storage boxes full on hardcovers and PBs I eventually hope to sell. That's just in my office. The former master bedroom now has a folddown couch and several shelves full of baseball fiction and non-fiction; hardcovers in back, TPBs and PBs in front. Several boxes are on the floor. The former dining room has a three-door glassed lawyer's bookcase where I keep my best collectible hardcover fiction. Two five-shelf bookcases are filled two deep with more hardcovers. The heated sunroom now serves as a dining area, but it has space for several more boxes of baseball books. Now to my basement. The bedroom has a large shelf filled double-wide with crime novels. I'm trying to collect all the books listed in the 100 Favorite Mysteries and They Died in Vain. On that bookcase I also put PBs and a few hardcovers of books that have won or been nominated for mystery awards. A couple of other shelves are filled with ????. The large basement room houses my large sports fiction and non-fiction collection including several shelves of hockey, the rest of my hardcover and TPB fiction, my mystery reference section and entertainment that I keep near my Rockola jukebox and the thousands of LPs I never play. I also have two built-in bookcases designed to hold PBs. That's where I keep my collections of John D. MacDonald, Brett Halliday and other crime authors from days gone by. I don't know how many other boxes are on the couch and floor - maybe 25. I also keep my large magazine collection down there. Nothing in either bathroom or my living room. As we move to my unheated back porch you probably can find another dozen boxes. The garage had gorilla shelves filled with boxes along both sides and the end. I also have more than a few books at our family cottage on Lake Winnipeg. That's also where my old large-format Esquires are stored. And I can hardly wait until April 21 when one of the best sales in North America, the annual Chidren's Hospital Book Market, starts. So what do you think I should label myself?


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