Maximum Capacity

I’m at maximum capacity. My home library is crammed with bookshelves and they’re all full. I now have stacks of books on the floor without a home. I’m in need of some sort of book hoarders support group or reality television show to swoop in and make it all work out.

But how did it get this way? Things started off well enough; we moved into a smaller home with five bedrooms in the country. The two older children went into the basement bedrooms and the bedroom beside the master bedroom became my home office slash library. I put large double sided bookshelves in the room and my desk over by the window. I unpacked all my books and the shelves were pretty full, but it worked. Our previous house was larger and I had a home office and a library, but downsizing was necessary and this meant one room in the house to do it all. Whatever happened I wasn’t going to expand outside this room.

After several months I realized incoming books were forming stacks on the floor, so I took a hard look at my books and removed all the paperback novels. These were boxed up and traded in or donated. Now I had room for my new books. Everything had a place.

This worked for a few more months, perhaps a year, until I came across a clearance sale and purchased almost every DC Archive for $7 each. Come on, at that price I had to have them. This meant I needed a decent chunk of shelf space. Another pass and I removed all my hardcover prose fiction from the bookshelves and traded them in at a second hand bookstore and donated the leftovers.

Now comic hardcovers and trade paperbacks had completely taken over my home library. This wasn’t that big a deal for me since I had moved my prose reading to a Kindle early on and had never looked back; it was easy on the eyes, fonts were adjustable and it was an excellent size and weight.

More time passed and I was right back in the squeeze: every shelf was full. This time I thought to reorganize. The large computer desk was removed in favor or a small desk that fit under the window; the one space where I couldn’t really put a bookshelf. Everywhere else I rejigged and was able to cram in six more bookshelves along every available wall space. You could still get in and maneuver throughout the room, with a decent amount of space around the computer desk to sit and work. And I had two shelves empty! What a coup.

Oh how this newfound joy faded as I found myself again with a menacing stack of hardcover threatening to topple and bury me. I went through the trade paperbacks and softcovers, removing anything I had a copy of in a hardcover. Surprisingly with newer collections and omnibuses I had two comic long boxes full of softcovers ready to be traded in at my local comic shop.

Over Christmas and the new year I went to Toronto to pick up a few things at Boxing Day sales. Plus The Beguiling had their 75% off moving sale, where I may have picked up 29 newspaper strip collections in a fit of hoarding collecting fervor.

Now I have these three (possibly four) stacks of books beside my chair, and I really have nowhere left to put them. I may be at a place where professional help is my only option.

Or could my savior be, in fact, digital? Early this year I decided to prune my buying, only getting collections that are not standard comic sized. They need to be something special in print to be added to the library; is that new collection shelf worthy? Otherwise I can read them digitally on my tablet. In fact I’m currently eyeing up a Chinese 13.3″ Windows 10 tablet for $350 USD that will present a comic at larger than Absolute size for reading.

That leaves me buying newspaper strip collections and Artist’s Editions. The home office closet is already filled with Artist’s Editions on special reinforced shelves.

And yes, there are hundreds of books on these shelves that I haven’t read. But we talked about that before.

There’s no question a pruning is in my immediate future, but at this point I’m not willing to just dump remaining hardcovers; I want to sell them and get a decent return. A new adventure awaits!

Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

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7 years ago

I can’t imagine being in a situation like that.

I mean the part where you didn’t have stacks of books on the floor.

Nicholas Post
Nicholas Post
7 years ago

You mentioned that there are hundreds of books on shelves that you haven’t read.

Sounds like you are in a loophole situation. If you haven’t yet read one, there will be, in increment, another hundred books piled on top of a hundred books, in a domino effect.

Building extra bookcase/shelf wouldn’t solve your maximum capacity. I was in the similar situation a few years ago and I thought selling some collections would make a nice sum of money, well, it wasn’t always the case.

F. Omar Telan
7 years ago

This post is awesome.

FWIW, In the past, I’ve reduced my backlog (and acquisitions) by making a rule that I have to read, say 4, books in order to buy 1.

7 years ago

In a similar situation where I need to sell many books but don’t want to go the FeeBay route due to enormous Canadian shipping costs. Might try Craigslist or Kijiji. Anyone have any experience with other sales avenues?

Charlie Kim
7 years ago

This is one of the primary reasons why I started doing shows… Craiglist and Kijiji wasn’t working for me. But be careful lads… It’s difficult to part with stuff you have an emotional connection to, compounded by the commodity factor which has this material depreciating quickly, not to mention the glut of material out there offering up deals seemingly to good to refuse. I’ve seen things that can’t be unseen… warehouses, basements and storage rooms full books. Mountains and mountains of books… the horror…. the horror…

Marc Sims
7 years ago

Marvel Masterworks to eBay, Scott. It worked wonders for me!