Dear Lifehacker, I’m a book collector living in a small house and I’m trying to find the best (and cheapest) way to store all my books while leaving them still somewhat accessible. At the moment I have about seven bookcases worth in a retail storage unit down the road stored in plastic tubs with lids. My collection is a variety of different formats — graphic novels, paperbacks, hardcovers and textbooks. My biggest problem is these boxes keep piling up and I’m unlikely to access the ones at the back anymore. Any tips? Thanks, Book Addict
Bookshelves picture from Shutterstock
Dear Book Addict,
I very much empathise with your situation, but there’s only a few solutions to this particular dilemma — and they’re solutions that I suspect you’ll find difficult to come to terms with.
The eBook solution
There’s no doubting that a Kindle, Kobo or any of the myriad cheap e-readers allow you to store books in a more space-efficient way. In terms of your ongoing love affair with the written word, eBooks would definitely be the way to go, but you probably don’t want to re-buy the books you already own.
Technically, under Australian copyright law you’re entitled to digitise any printed book you own but the painful bit there is that this provision only works for books you’re prepared to scan and perform OCR correction on yourself. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and you’re extremely pedantic, it is one solution.
Rationalise ‘until it hurts (which it will)
You’ve only got so much space, but at the same time you’ve only got a single set of eyes and 24 hours in the day to read them all. You mention that you’re not likely to access the books at the back of the box stack any more, which means it may just be time to sort through your books and identify the really important ones.
However this doesn’t mean that you have to then put the rest in a pile and light a match. Indeed, don’t do that. Forget I wrote that entirely. Donate the books away — depending on what you’ve got they could either be good research tools for somebody or a way for a worthy charity to earn some much needed cash — but check your local library’s resources before you do. If they have a copy of one or more of the books you currently own, there’s nothing stopping you borrowing it from them when you have the time or desire to read it. As an added bonus, they’ll even store it on their own shelves when you’re done.
Build a house made entirely out of bookshelves
I like this idea, and it would solve your storage problems for a while… but it’s likely to be a bit on the expensive or impractical side.
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