I thought my books and I were “’til death do us part”, but now…

I thought my books and I were “’til death do us part”, but now…

For just about as long as I can remember, I’ve defined myself in part by the books I own.

Not just the books I’ve read: arguably, the books you read can truly shape who you are.

No, by the books I own. Most of those are also books I’ve read, and I don’t own books with no intent to read them ever, but having them has been part of my identity.

Our now adult kid had quite a revelation one time when we moved…our kid realized that “…the books always get a bigger bedroom than I do.” 🙂


Our floor to ceiling shelved library is one of my favorite places in the world. I shared pictures of it before:

Our library with photos

I’ve often mentioned in the blog that I have something like 10,000 p-books (paperbooks) on shelves in our home.


I’ve recently been rethinking my scenario.

I had always pictured that I would keep accumulating p-books until I died. Then, they would be donated.

Much of what I have would be considered ephemera…something with no lasting value. I didn’t know who would want to preserve, catalog, and share my books…I didn’t think that through enough.

I considered myself a preservationist: it wouldn’t surprise me if I have one of the very few copies of some of the works I have…some were basically self-published, and again, were never popular.

We have had a big change in lifestyle recently, and that has gotten me to re-evaluate a number of things.

I can tell you, it would be a burden on our kid (or whoever dealt with the estate) to figure out where to donate the books (and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of value). I’m sure the “next generation” wouldn’t want to keep them…houses in the future won’t even be built with the idea of massive bookshelves (which were initially actually part of a plan to sell more books).

It also seems…selfish to keep them just sitting on the shelf when they could benefit other people the way they have benefited me.

A big turning point for me: I donated a “Jenny Haniver” to Loren Coleman’s museum:

Going to Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum? See my Jenny Haniver

I only recently met

Loren Coleman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

in person for the first time (I did the donation before that), and that meeting really reinforced my sense that things I donated to the ICM would be respected.

If that’s the case, isn’t it better for the world that the books go to someone who will do with them now what I wanted someone to do with them after I died, however many years from now that might be?

We could also use the tax write-off, small though it might be. 😉 Refining the house is also something we are doing now: straightening things, streamlining, and doing some redesign of display.

It also made me really, really happy to see the Jenny Haniver very briefly appear in a trailer for the new documentary


It’s not in the current version showing there, by the way…I saw it at a special event in San Francisco.

So (deep breath), I’m going to start looking at things to donate.

Cryptozoology books to the ICM; that’s an easy choice. That includes “cryptofiction”, and cryptozoology movie-related items (somewhere I have a giant theatrical poster for The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which fits that). Fortunately, the ICM also takes other books on the “unknown”, and that’s where I have some collectible items as well. Loren suggested the

The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies

for purely UFO items, and I’ll consider that.

I hope to find a place for pop culture items which don’t fit my “Bufo’s Weird World” materials. I have a Buckaroo Banzai jacket, a promotional radio record for Blazing Saddles, that sort of thing. If you have a suggestion for an established non-profit (where we can get the tax write-off), I’d be happy to hear it!

I’m sure I never would have gotten here without the Kindle and e-books. We do have over 3,000 of those, and our adult kid is on our account and will therefore have access to them after I’m gone…and they won’t be any kind of burden.

Am I going to get rid of all my p-books? I’m not sure…my Oz books would be tough to do, and books I’ve owned since I was a child, or that were written by people I know…hm, I’ll think about it.

What about you? What is your strategy on your p-books? Have you already reduced your library? Did you donate them? Sell them? Give them away? Do you have a post-mortem library plan? If you inherited a lot of books, what was that experience like? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

12 Responses to “I thought my books and I were “’til death do us part”, but now…”

  1. Karen Says:

    I had hundreds of p back books at one time but when the first kindle came out I bought that and have owned several over the years. I donated all of the paperbacks to libaries and assisted living facilities. I wanted people to enjoy them now. Future generations will not read that way.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Karen!

      That was very generous of you and a great way to go!

      Since I would say my primary goal is getting these items preserved for future society, that wouldn’t work as well for me. When books are donated to a public library, they are generally sold in a book sale (which does support the library, which is certainly a good thing). There are a couple of reasons for that: they can’t go through the book and make sure it hasn’t been defaced in some way (missing pages, stains, marginalia); and there may be a considerable process before a book can be approved for lending in that community. That’s my understanding of it.

      So, let’s say I have the only copy of a given book still extant. If I donated it to my local library, it might be sold for a quarter or a dollar at a book sale. It could go to someone who just reads it themselves, without unusual care to protect it, and then it just ends up in an attic forever, or thrown out, or sold at a garage sale. That book is then lost to future generations.

      What I want is someone (an organization) that will keep the book, log information about it, protect it, ideally digitize it, and in the case of public domain material, make it available to the public.

      As far as assisted living, the book might be read by a few people before it fails to survive. Again, that’s a good thing, and would make sense for, say, Stephen King books where there are many, many copies and the “master files” are preserved already.

      I think what you did was wonderful, and I would do it with commonly available books I own…it’s the rare ones that have my focus in this post.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    When I lived in NH (until 2004), I had somewhere North of 10,000 pbooks. A lot of mass market paperbacks, trade paper, and hardbacks. A LOT of computer manuals going back to the early sixties. When I moved to Florida, I took none of that with me — I put it all in a rental storage locker where it resides to this day.

    In Florida, I continued to buy pbooks (about 50/50 hardback/paperback) until I had accumulated about 1000 books. Then I got my first kindle, and I went cold turkey on paper. Those 1000 books sit decorously on shelves in my living room (two and three deep) — all have been read, but now they serve mainly as decoration.

    If I want to reread one of those, I just buy a kindle copy rather than looking for the physical copy on the shelves.

    I’m the oldest in a large family. When I die, all that I own goes to my siblings. What they do with everything is something I will no longer have any interest in.

  3. Karin Says:

    I am a book hoarder. The only reason I don’t have 10,000 p-books is because I don’t have the shelf space. Thankfully, the Kindle came along, Now I have been able to donate books to mostly charity shops, ones that will take any books (including outdated computer books). I am not attached to the physical versions, just as I don’t need first editions or hardbacks. I only care about the content.

    I do have some wonderful editions of Tolstoy and Shakespeare that I plan to keep with me until I die. I also plan on keeping books that i will re-read (my most beloved books) and are not available in digital format.

  4. Phink Says:

    Two points. First I have the Harry Potter audio books (2-7) on CD and I will almost certainly never listen to them again as I also bought the Audible versions. I have considered giving them away but have not done so yet and actually almost forgot about them. Your post is gonna make me rethink that. I have about a dozen other audio CD books as well that I doubt I’ll ever listen to again. I need to do something with those. Perhaps someone can enjoy them.

    Second, when I logged onto Amazon in February 2009 and seen the kindle for the 1st time I was almost certain that was my future. They were….I’m thinking…..$379 maybe. Well I saw that as a bargain but got a used one for about $100 less. I’d have to look at my official records to know for sure what I paid. Within a few days of having it I had no interest in DTB’s again. I sold and gave away all my books except Harry Tutledove’s Guns of the South. As I’ve mentioned before that is the 1st book I ever read all the way through when I was 27 years old. I could not part with it. I have gotten 2 Star Trek hardcovers since then as presents and they are more like technical manuals. Those are the only DTB’s that I own.

    When I went to digital movies a few years ago I got rid of most of my DVD’s. I still have a couple dozen and I need to give those away too. I have not touched them in a couple years now.

    I also have about 300 CD’s but not sure if I can legally get rid of those. See, I converted them to MP3’s years ago and I know I have the right to do that IF I own the hard copy. I’m not sure I could legally keep them if I give my CD’s away or sell them. It would not bother my conscience to keep them as I did pay for them at one point but I’m having a hard time parting with them just to make sure I am within the law. But, it’s space taken up. I have not listened to a physical CD in maybe 5 years and I’m not exaggerating.

    One reason I love all things digital is the lack of space it takes up. I have an 1180 square foot house and if my wife would let me I’d sell it and build a custom 400-600 square foot home. She wants to go the opposite way on a new home so our compromise is in the middle and our home fits the bill for that.

    • Phink Says:

      I might need to try to sell them instead of giving them away because I got the shock of my life last week. My poor wife developed major TMJ issues and I was shocked to find that most medical insurances do not cover TMJ. Neither does dental because it’s not a dental issue. Well, the treatment is gonna be very costly. Thankfully we will be able to pay it but it’s thousands of dollars and I’ve been looking for things to sell to recoup some of that money.

      The main reason I’m posting this is because it does tie into what we are discussing but also because I bet most people have no idea TMJ is not covered by most medical plans. I mean if I could get $2 each for my CD’s that’s $600. That would come in handy.

  5. Phink Says:

    Bufo, this is off topic but the only way I know to get in touch with you and you are the only Californian I know. OK I don’t know you but you know what I mean.

    I have been wanting an electric car for 2 years now. The problem is in Arkansas we have no infrastructure for them at all. I know California has lots of public chargers. I am downsizing for financial reasons and getting rid of my expensive SUV. I am having a Chevy Spark EV delivered from California in 11 days. Side note: I’m getting a licence plate frame that says “100% electric. Phink’s Spark – Plug”. hehehehe. Ok dorky but I like it. Get rid of the hyphen or not?

    I live in a town of 27,000 and we have zero chargers. Jonesboro 20 miles away has a population of 75,000 and 2 chargers. One at Nissan which I’m sure they would not want me to use because I bought a Chevy and one at a daycare which has an environmentally minded owner who will allegedly let people charge for free if the company leaf is not plugged up. I talked to the salesman at Nissan a year ago when considering a used leaf and he said he’s been there 3 years and as far as he knows nobody has ever used that charger. I think all Nissan dealerships are required to have chargers.

    My friends and certain family are giving me the business about going 100% electric. They think I’m the goofiest person ever but even with lack of infrastructure I think it’ll work for me. I drive very little and could use the savings it will bring. Plus I’m a sucker for new things and as a handicap man it’s very difficult for me to pump gas. The older I get the harder it becomes.

    Finally to the point. I know I’m long winded. Sorry. I’m thinking of doing a blog or you tube channel about owning an electric car in the land of electric car hatred. Like I said some think I have lost my mind. They have done zero research but they know it all. I have done tons or research 2 years now. I know more about electric cars than anybody in history who has never actually sat in one. I have educated myself on them quite well I think.

    What do you thing about a blog or you tube channel about electric car ownership in the south? Feel free to be honest with me if you think it’s silly. You wont’ hurt my feelings.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I would keep the hyphen if you do it. 🙂

      As to the blog/channel: if you think it would be fun and/or help the world, and you have the time and energy to do it, go for it! That’s rule of thumb, but probably applies to most creative endeavors.

      If you are asking if I think it would be commercially successful, that’s a different question and less relevant, in my opinion. While there are creative things that people can do strictly to make money, they aren’t that common and aren’t guaranteed.

      My feeling is that it would be a pretty small audience, and that the situation will change in the next few years. However, I would love to be have it be a big hit and you become a star. 😉

      I think the cartoon book we talked about earlier has more commercial possibilities, but again, that wouldn’t be the reason to do it…

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I would keep the hyphen if you do it. 🙂

      As to the blog/channel: if you think it would be fun and/or help the world, and you have the time and energy to do it, go for it! That’s rule of thumb, but probably applies to most creative endeavors.

      If you are asking if I think it would be commercially successful, that’s a different question and less relevant, in my opinion. While there are creative things that people can do strictly to make money, they aren’t that common and aren’t guaranteed.

      My feeling is that it would be a pretty small audience, and that the situation will change in the next few years. However, I would love to be have it be a big hit and you become a star. 😉

      I think the cartoon book we talked about earlier has more commercial possibilities, but again, that wouldn’t be the reason to do it…

      • Phink Says:

        Yeah I have no interest in making money off You Tube because I know the chances are extremely small. For me, it’s to inform and to spread the word. I think EV’s are great. This coming from a man who has never actually sat in one. I’m getting mine delivered from California Wednesday and then we’ll see if I’m right or not.
        The energy thing is the question? If I feel I’m helping even just a hand full of people I’d have more energy but if I feel nobody cares or is watching then my energy would probably fade.
        As far as the book about my experience of losing a leg I have done an outline and put together a few pages.
        I’m gonna do that if for no other reason so my descendants can read it. I’ll probably put it in the Kindle store and see what happens. My goal is not money but I’d love to be able to help someone deal with tragedy. Losing a leg is not the end of the world. I’ve said on here before there are a ton of benefits to it. Those benefits are not worth losing a leg over but once it’s gone and cant’ come back then hot diggity you no longer have to help family members move…EVER AGAIN! Whoo-Hooo!
        I want to help family members deal with it as well. I think my experience might be able to do that. Again, I feel so unqualified in that area but I still think maybe, just maybe, I can do some good.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Phink!

        Oh, I think you have a good assessment of the energy thing. 🙂 When people like you comment, it makes me much more committed to continuing with the blog. If it as completely an echo chamber, I might not still be doing it. That’s one of the challenging things about the Bookish Birthdays…it doesn’t provoke as much dialog. However, it is getting a positive response, and I think it’s around…September that I will have done it for a year and it will get easier. 😉 I’m sort of settling into a routine of a bigger post on the weekend for now…I’ve got a lot to write about today!

      • Phink Says:

        I normally would not say this but since you brought it up the Bookish Birthdays are the only post you put up that I don’t look at. Mostly because unless its one of about a dozen authors I have no idea who they are. I mean I read about 25-30 books a year and most times the very day I’m done with a book if someone asked “who wrote it” I’d give them a blank stare. I’m not sure why that is but unless it’s John Grisham, Stephen King, or a small handful of others I don’t know who they are and can’t visualize them.

        Right now I’m reading The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland (not about the President) and have no idea who wrote it. I just looked and it was Rebekah Crane. I’m gonna start Ready Player One very soon and no idea who wrote it either.

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