Bookshelves Gathering Dust - Andrew Crofts
My wife, a prolific reader, is one of the “I like the smell of real books” brigade, whereas I am one of the “I like the convenience and back-lighting of Kindle on my iPad” folk. My wife’s approach to book buying, (and of course mine until the Kindle Years arrived), means that we have multiple shelves of the paper variety, some of which are now showing their age with brown liver spots of dust.
We have reached the age where we are thinking about downsizing in the housing department and have decided that we are going to have to clean off the dust to display them in a way that makes the house look more desirable to potential buyers and then decide which ones we want to move with.
I have pointed out that this daunting task would be even worse if the two hundred or so titles on my Kindle were living with us in paper form, but my wife appears not to be listening as we empty the shelves into piles on the floor, dusting, wiping and vacuuming as we go.
Some of the dust on them is probably at least thirty years old as that is how long we have been in this house. Some of the titles were my mother’s books from when she was a child, which means they must be close to a hundred years old.
On top of all the books which we have bought, inherited or been gifted over the years, we also have the problem of the hundred or more books I have written. Most publishers kindly provide half a dozen copies of each on publication, and then the same for every translation and re-print. Those figures add up to crate-loads of books, the spines of which have never been cracked open and certainly won’t be now. To throw out a lifetime’s work however ….
I’m not sure that this exercise has led me to any earth shattering conclusions about the future of the printed book, and it is quite possible that once they have all been spruced up and re-shelved in attractive combinations we still won’t get round to moving house. They will then sit here with us for another twenty years until our poor grieving children are faced with the same problem. “Should we,” they will wonder, “burn all Dad’s books?”