Merging Collections: How To Move In With Another Book Lover

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Mara Franzen

Staff Writer

Mara (They/Them) has accidentally on purpose made their entire life about books and stories. Mara graduated with a B.A in creative writing and theatre and is halfway through an MFA in Creative writing. In addition to writing for Book Riot, Mara also has written for The Independent Book Review, Wargamer, and The Other Half, to name a few. They also work as a fiction editor with The Minison Project. Nearly all of their published articles can be found here.

Listen. I own a lot of books. According to my mother, who is also an avid reader, I own too many. And it is true that every available surface of my room is simply coated in books — ones I own and some from my unnecessarily large library hauls. But in my defense, I simply love books, and I’ve surrounded myself with people who give really good book recommendations. Which brings me to my little dilemma: I’m moving!

Luckily I’m not moving very far, but I’m still going to have to haul my entire collection, and what’s better (or worse depending on who you are), I’m moving in with another book lover.

My best friend and I have been friends since 2nd grade, best friends since 3rd grade, and have similar tastes in a lot of things. This extends to books. So as we get ready to move in together, we have the ridiculous ordeal of trying to figure out how to fit all our books in our two bedroom apartment. In some cases, there will be up to seven editions of the same book, because of collectors editions and such. It’s truly a mess. But, we are strong independent readers, and we’ve concocted a plan.

Phase One: Blessings Upon Library Scanners

Recently I cataloged my entire book collection and purchased a handheld library scanner to get the job done. It made entering ISBN numbers a breeze, which made the process so much easier. So once our moving plans were settled, I decided to spend an afternoon at my best friends house and scan all her books.

Now, we have two complete lists of our collections in an easy to manage system. This will help down the road when we either have to move away from each other, or want to see if there’s a certain book in our apartment before buying a new copy.

Even if you aren’t merging a truly laughable number of books, I highly recommend having some sort of book database for yourself. It’s saved me so much money when it comes to buying duplicates.

Phase Two: Let it Go, Let it Go!

Once we had all our earthly possessions scanned in, we started to get rid of them. If we had duplicates of books, and one of us wasn’t attached to it, or didn’t plan to read it soon, it was shipped off to the nearest library accepting donations. We were able to get rid of a ton. There are still many duplicates, and that’s alright. We’ve just decided to keep those in our rooms and not in the common spaces.

We went through the process of removing those books we were getting rid of from our database, and found that we now only had about 1,300 books to fit into our apartment. (You don’t want to know how many we started with. I promise). So, now we had to figure out where to put them.

Phase Three: The What and The Where

Now I will be the first to admit that I am a show-off at heart. I think I’m cool and interesting, and I want other people to notice that about me. So naturally I like to keep my signed and collector’s editions as well as my “intellectual” books out for people to see.

My BFF is the smartest person alive, and loves classic Greek literature and plays. She also has a myriad of different translations for each classic in her collection.

So we decided to keep those books on our living room shelves, both because they make us look very impressive, and also because our rooms are on the smaller side.

It also worked because most of duplicate copies come from our genre fiction books, so we can keep those together in our rooms. In addition, we now have a dedicated space for our library books, so they won’t get lost in the piles of our other books.

Phase Four: Live a Little

Now, we simply have to see if this plan works out. There will likely be some shuffling around, and I’ve been eyeing my shelves thinking I could probably donate a few more books. This might all change after we live in the apartment for a while. But at least we have a plan going in.

That’s the big thing about this merge: it’s gonna take a while. We both love books and will continue to acquire them. We are going to have to rearrange the furniture a few times. But we have a plan going in.

Being an owner of books means your collection is literally always changing. You acquire some, you get rid of some, you borrow and loan. So having a plan for merging your collection with another book lover doesn’t have to be that much of a hassle. Just be clear with how you want your books to be stored, and find a way to balance the shelf space. You’ll make it through! Plus, just think of how many more books you’re going to have access to.

Personally I can’t wait to finally marathon the Witcher series, since my new roomie owns them. Just go with the flow, and your collections will be sorted, stored and adored in no time.