Steven S. Long is a writer, game designer, and all 'round great guy. According to the secret files of the KGB, he once singlehandedly defeated the Kremlin's plot to attack America with laser-powered Godzillas.

« Origins Bound! | Main | Sex, Guns, Rock And Roll, And Website Updates! »

Library Building

When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

—variant translation of a quote by Erasmus in a letter to Jacob Batt, April 12, 1500

Since it’s the 513th anniversary of this quote by Erasmus, one of my favorites, I thought I’d blog a bit about books and the buying thereof.

As some of you out there know, I like books. I like books a lot. I suspect most of you out there reading my blog share this sentiment.

As a single guy with no kids, I have a certain amount of disposable income, and most of that goes toward books. In addition to using Amazon and other websites to track down books I want, I also go to all the local library book sales that occur annually and walk out with so many books I have to bring a small cart to the larger sales to haul ’em all out safely. When I visit Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, I spend hundreds of dollars at a clip and have to have the books shipped home (well, other than one or two I save out for the flight home ;) ). I’ve never gotten to go to The Strand in NYC or similar large bookstores in other major cities, but I expect I’d treat them the same way I do Powell’s. One of these days I’m going to have to make a list of bookstores like that and plan a tour. ;)

I don’t consider myself a “book collector,” though. With the exception of my collection of travel guides and related books from the 1920s and ’30s, edition and condition don’t usually matter much to me as long as the book holds together and is readable. It’s the contents I’m after. What I really am is a library builder. I’m assembling a library of books on subjects that interest me so that whenever I feel like it, I can pull a book off the shelf and dive right in. That may be a somewhat quaint notion in these days of Wikipedia and carrying around thousands of e-books on a tablet computer, but so be it. I like the feel of an actual physical book in my hand (which I can easily underline or annotate if desired), and I like the look (and even smell) of lots of books on shelves.

But therein lies a problem — one no doubt many of you share. I acquire books at a pretty rapid clip a lot of the time, and that means I need a place to put ’em. Before I moved into the house where I currently reside (the one where I grew up, in fact), I had my office (my bedroom when I was a kid) renovated to put bookshelves from floor to ceiling on virtually every square foot of wall. (And I’m thinking of ways to cover up the few remaining blank spots as well.) In the other rooms and halls of my second floor I have many other bookshelves — and all that’s in addition to the built-in shelving in the den downstairs, which I’ve filled with part (by no means all) of my RPG library.

I’m now making plans to expand a couple of smaller shelves, add shelves to the one room that doesn’t have them, and use Umbra Conceal “invisible shelving” in a few other places. Once I’ve done all that, though, I’ll have come pretty close to maximizing the space available for books upstairs. (There’s still some possibility of freestanding shelves in the middle of the floor in one or two rooms, but I prefer to avoid that if I can, for various reasons.) And while all that extra shelving will help for awhile, inevitably the day will come when those shelves fill up.

Confounding this problem is my OCD-ish nature, which insists on organizing books by category, keeping similar categories in proximity as much as possible, allowing room for expansion, and so forth. All that cuts into the current usable shelf space, and will continue to do so in the future.

It’s reached the point where I’ve begun daydreaming about ways I could build onto my house primarily for purposes of obtaining more library space.

But I don’t have a problem. I can quit anytime! ;)

In all seriousness, though, I’d like to hear about the creative ways some of y’all out there have solved your book storage problems. Have you devised a clever solution? Invented access to extradimensional space? Found a way to double-stack your shelves without reducing visibility? I keep my eyes open for intriguing library pictures on Ye Olde Internette in search of inspiration, but I expect some of you fine folx have thought up an idea or two I haven’t run across so far.

Let me know!

References (4)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: pixe.it
    Great write up, bookmarked your site in interest to read more!
  • Response
    Thank you for great article. I had a very good time reading, and there were few things I was surprised by.
  • Response
    Response: www.mirnezamco.com
    Great read. I found your site from a google search, and was glad i did. The data has helped me immensely.
  • Response
    Steven S. Long - BLOGS - Library Building

Reader Comments (2)

I don't have much advice but I can say that I share your pain though my issue is compounded by the fact that I live in an apartment and share it with my wife who's a scholar with her own voluminous collection of volumes. She often wonders aloud if the floor in our shared office will collapse. I have every space in that office crammed wall to ceiling, part of which my wife calls the "Wall of Game" and the books then spill out into the living room which houses both of our Occult/Magick/Pagan titles. Sadly, there are more books than shelf/desk/closet space so I have been forced to store the excess in waterproof bins in the basement which pains me but what can you do. My apartment has now become like a museum with storage with the books on rotation as I occasionally swap out titles between shelf and storage. One thing I have done to keep some control is that I don't shelve anything unless I've read it, which has left me with two big bins full of books to read that never seem to empty, as it of course takes less time to buy a book than to read it. Lemony Snicket said "It is most likely that I will die next to a pile of books I was meaning to read" and I fear that I will share that same fate.

April 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergoeticgeek

I most likely will as well. ;)

I definitely like the idea of "rotating" books through the shelves and storage. That's clever, fun, and occasionally a bit of exercise. ;)

April 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterSteven S. Long

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>