Monday, February 13, 2006

On Weeding One's Collection

Nothing at all notable has happened today (well, there was a bit of snow yesterday, but there's not much to say about that), and no packages arrived today. So, to avoid missing a day, I present this gem from the archives, originally posted to rec.arts.sf.written 4/30/00, posted in reply to someone who wanted to know which books he should get rid of:

No specific recommendations from me, I'm afraid, but every single time I've weeded my collection I've gotten rid of something that a) I knew I'd never read again, never want to lend to anyone, was utterly outdated, useless and a waste of shelf space and b) I desperately wanted to get my hands on a copy of about two years later, when it was impossible to find.

Now, that's usually because, as an editor, I decide I'm thinking about bringing back thus-and-such a book, and I need to re-read it to see how it works today. But I bet similar things happen to ordinary readers, too.

So my advice is to never ever let go of a single book again (my current rule for myself is to never get rid of a SF/F book I haven't read, or by anyone in the field, and to think about seventeen times before getting rid of SF/F books I have read, unless I've done a SFBC edition already; mysteries and non-fiction, on the other hand, go into the memory hole much more often than not). Someday you'll wonder, "Gee, did I really hate Book X that much because it was horrible, or because I didn't appreciate it?" And, after you spend two years tracking down an expensive copy, you'll discover you hated it because it was horrible.

Book are your friends! They keep you warm in the winter! Never let them get away from you (unless they're the rare old things I'm looking for and can never find, in which case, please do get them back into circulation).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i have to say, i agree, even though i'm not an editor. the ONLY thing, imho, that is worse than wanting a book that you know you read but you gave away, is wanting a book that you know you read, not finding it because you may have given it away, buying a new copy (often at great expense/annoyance) and then finding the damn thing on a shelf right in front of you.

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