printed privately by a local family, a guidebook to China published in 1922, and hardcover editions of old novels by Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, and Agatha Christie.
As a child, by choice, I spent my birthdays haunting the second-hand bookstores of downtown Chicago with my birthday cash in hand. The annual Brandeis book sale was one of my favorite events of the year back then—an enormous second-hand book sale held under massive canvas tents at which I'd spend my pennies on musty old volumes published decades before my birth.
The Internet has expanded my world, first and foremost, by expanding my access to books. Using Bookfinder.com, I can easily purchase obscure out-of-print books released years ago by regional presses in far away countries. On eBay.com, I have more than once found a complete set of old volumes being sold together, which individual installments it would have taken me years to locate on foot. Online book-buying has made research so much easier than it used to be.
And speaking of research... that's the chief villain in my surfeit of books.
My steadily growing collection of research and background reading for my Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, for example, already takes up a whole bookcase. As I found myself guiltily explaining to my exhausted, sweat-drenched movers last month, who carried dozens of very heavy book boxes up the steep and long Victorian stairs of this extremely tall house, I research such unusual subjects for this series (ex. doppelgangers; solstice demons; supernatural vanishings; voodoo rituals; Serbian folklore; Chinese mythology; etc.) that I need my own reference library. For similar reasons, I have a substantial number of books on traditional weapons and combat, since I've written some sword-and-sorcery novels and hope to write some more. I'm also researching a historical fantasy I want to write, and the reference books for that so far take up more than half of one of my new bookcases.
Books are also a notable exception to my "if you haven't used it in two years, get rid of it" rule. Even in instances where I am completely done with a subject after I finish writing a novel about it, I am loathe to give up those reference books. It takes time and effort to collect a good set of informative books on an obscure subject, so what if I later discover I need them again for another project? (Moreover, who else would want to own these books, now that they're covered in my highlights and margin notes?)
I'm also a voracious reader of nonfiction for pleasure, so my shelves (and my still-packed boxes) are overflowing with nonfiction books I loved and expect to read again, as well as with (in even greater number) books on topics that interest me and which I bought so that I can read them later.
Then there are the novels. In addition to the novels I re-read too often to give them up, there are the novels I bought so I can read them later, novels that are inscribed to me, and novels in which I'm mentioned in the Acknowledgments or the Dedication.
Additionally, my father is a prolific science fiction writer and anthology editor. His books were scattered among numerous other boxes of books for years, so it wasn't until I started unpacking recently in this house that I realized I've got three full boxes of books by the old man. I sat him down recently to explain that, filial loyalty notwithstanding, I am not buying a whole bookcase just for his works; some of these books will have to remain in boxes. Fortunately, he took the news well.
I've also discovered during my unpacking that I have a shocking number of author's copies of most of my own titles. This, at least, is an easy overflow problem to solve; I will be donating signed books to every charity auction and fundraiser that I hear about for the next few years.
I have just arrived here, so my departure is not imminent; but I will leave this house someday. And I've already decided that I never again want to pack, move, and unpack this many books. Realistically, I'm not very likely to give up (or even minimize) my lifelong book-buying addiction. So I'm going to have to start embracing e-books.
I've got an e-reader, but I don't particularly like it. I prefer print books, partly because I find paperbacks much more comfortable to hold than an e-reader; and partly because I love making highlights and margin notes in a book, and I find the e-reader ways of doing this clunky and limiting. I am also appalled at how sloppily publishers are formatting many backlist books, and I find most publisher e-books overpriced. But I have nonetheless decided that I must gradually start the process of switching over more heavily to e-books, both in terms of the new books I buy, and also in terms of replacing my beloved print editions with e-book editions.