Someone once categorised the 5 reasons for selling books thus – Death, Divorce, Debt, Disinterest and Displacement (the “5 D’s”). The last refers to people moving houses, a very common reason. One could add ‘Disease’- we were once called to a house in Battersea where a man was selling every single book he possessed because he had become allergic to the paper in them. Dotage could also be added but this is usually covered by displacement…Duplication is another reason— for example, marriage can occasion the turfing out of a lot of duplicated books, especially when two great collections are amalgamated. We were privileged to be called to the Notting Hill mansion of Margaret Drabble and Michael Holroyd soon after their marriage. Divorce can be problematic in the division of books and occasionally lawyers become involved. In the days of CDs this was seldom a problem except one of clashes of taste.
In deciding which books to sell or get rid of the “4 R’s” mnemonic acronym can be of use. Read, Revere, Reference, Riches. It is slightly more contrived than the 5 D’s but is a very good test to use when slimming down a book collection. All bases are covered. Of each book ask the question:
Are you going to Read or re-read it?
Do you love or Revere the book?
Could the book be of use (Reference)?
Is the book going to increase in value and eventually yield Riches?
If yes to any of the above -keep the book, if no to all -toss it.