Friday, July 2, 2010

Ideas for the storage and display of books

First off, a quick note on my return from hiatus--my thanks to all of my friends, peers, students and colleagues at the Colgate Writers' Conference, especially W6 commenters Hope and Gallagher, who workshopped their novels-in-progress with me--it was great fun, and the talks especially were better than ever this year. (They should be hitting YouTube shortly and I will repost mine here.) Hope to see you all again in 2011.

So there you have it--Rhian's office is clean. Walking into it is like walking into an orderly mind--I am jealous, and now have to go back into my studioffice and pick up all the microphone cables and other crap the floor is covered with.

One thing we discovered as Rhian started putting away the many stacks of books that used to be sitting on her floor: we don't have enough bookcases. I don't know how this is possible, I just installed a new one last year, but it's already full. We do get rid of books now and again, and I bring some to my office at school, but honestly--we need some ideas for what to do with them all.

Generally we get our bookcases at the Unfinished Furniture Store on the west side. (I think it's called something else now actually.) But the house ends up with something of a college-dorm feel, as a result. I have been trolling the internet for ideas and come up with a few--building bookshelves into staircases, recessing walls and building shelves in between studs. In our old house, we had one room with a single bookshelf up above the window frames, going around three walls--that was cool, and maybe I can build something like it again here. I could also completely transform one windowed wall of my room, the one beside my desk.

This is particularly important to me now that I have read four or five books on the iPad and found the experience surprisingly lacking. It isn't the iPad, which is fairly pleasant to use. Rather, it is the apathetic, ham-handed execution of the ebook medium in the hands of major publishers. Ugly design, formatting errors, awkward layout...one senses that they are just tossing shit up there as fast as they can to cash in on the rush.

The tech is not mature, in other words. And the paper book still feels great. So let's hear your storage ideas.

14 comments:

rmellis said...

You can almost see my life-size picture of George Clooney.

Anonymous said...

This won't help for a large number of books...but my daughter bought "floating bookshelves" which look really cool and even work well at Halloween. Perhaps you could "weed" your books - start dating when you buy them - and just keep one year's worth on shelves? Just a thought.

jrlennon said...

What are floating bookshelves? I like them already.

Jennifer said...

We converted our dining room into a library of sorts. The room is too narrow to support two walls of bookcases and a table, so our dining table is now in a corner of the living room. It sort of works.

Kevin said...

This is not a problem you can solve with more bookcases. Books will multiply to fill all the available room, then you will acquire more of them. No, you are going to have to move. This is the only way to get rid of books, and getting rid of books is the only way out. Sorry.

Sung said...

Well, there's always self-storage...

I'm afraid Kevin's right -- you just gotta get rid of some of these books, the ones you know you'll never read again. Books are virulent creatures, always multiplying.

On my two bookshelves, I have books crammed in every which way -- above, below, in front, behind. And yet I still keep getting new ones. What's wrong with me?

jon said...

the last time i moved I decided I was old enough to hire professionals. One mover looked at all the books and told us that it would be something like 1,500 bucks extra just to move them. But, he reassured us, he was A PROFESSIONAL book mover. I Laughed. I really am a professional book mover, and I wasn't about to pay 1500 bucks for his expertise in lifting 60 pound boxes full of awe, woe and abandoned enthusiasms. I packed the books and loaded several cube vans, which maja took to a storage shed, and thence, to our new house, where they filled an entire room (wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling), and eventually, populated the walls, the nooks, the crannies (we bought big for this very purpose)...I think I found exactly one box I wanted to sell, and that box became a box of Regrets. There's no cure for it. The poet Sam Hamill told me he has stacks, as in a library. At major research universities they build 4 story quonset huts with climate control and storage bins, accessed with a 30 foot cherry picker modified for the retrieval of books. It is utterly hopeless, but I assume book collections, like the universe, will continue to expand. It is our only hope.

jrlennon said...

I can only applaud that comment, Jon.

rmellis said...

Jon, you're what I aspire to.

Hope said...

First, what a great time at Colgate! And John, I am loving every word of Mailman. Sorry it took me so long to get to it.
Re: books, I hate to say it, but there is no solution. We have bins of books in our garage, shelves of books in the house, stacks of books everywhere ... periodically I purge and take some to the swap shed at the dump, but that's just shaving a little off the top.

jrlennon said...

thanks Hope! You were a joy to be with as always.

Anonymous said...

jrlennon -- in response to "what are floating bookshelves" - my daughter corrected me and said they are "invisible bookshelves" :)

She said she bought them at The Container Store -- the bottom book "slides" into the frame (attached to the wall) and the other books simply sit on top of that book -- you can't see anything holding them up - pretty cool. They can be used in any room and can have a 'theme' or perhaps just hold your current reads.

Diana Holquist said...

Whatever you're into....

http://bookshelfporn.com/

Sung said...

John, check it out!

The bookcase you'll want to live in