Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Virtual Sort

As I mentioned earlier, I'm in the process of trimming down my book collection. And as I sort through what stays and what goes, it occurs to me that my choices are very different then they would have been just a few years ago.

Then I might have chosen to keep the important books and discard the lesser works of fiction  "War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells is a classic. "If Dying Was All" by Ron Goulart isn't.

In the past, if I was keeping just a physical library, I might have chosen to keep the classic and ditch the lesser book. But now -- thanks mostly to e-books -- the classics are readily available all the time. I could (in theory) have a Kindle chock-full of the greatest works of Western Civilization, many more volumes than I could possible store in my home.

So in this case, as my copy of the "War of the Worlds" isn't a first edition or anything special (just a paperback from the 1970's), out it goes. I've read the book many times, and will again -- and will have no trouble obtaining a copy when I'm ready.

As for "If Dying..," that's a different matter. The text was published once in the mid-1960's, and that was it It's part of a series of mysteries featuring John Easy, and written in Ron Goulart's surreal and minimalist style (which is why I like them). The book isn't available electronically, and only occasionally shows up on eBay.

So the question becomes: will I reread this book? If not, there's no need to keep it. If so, then holding on to the hard copy makes sense. Well, I've read it a couple of times, and will most likely reread it a few more. So it stays.

My new sort criteria:

1) Will I reread this book? Yes - move to question two. No - it goes.
2) If the answer is yes, then is this readily (and inexpensively) available online? Yes - it goes. No, it stays.

A far different process than I would have used a few years ago, but one that's putting a lot of books back into circulation!

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