How many books has your SO bought, in complete and utter defiance of your pleas?

Mr. S and I met in a philosophy class many years ago. I could see the potential right away: intelligent, handsome, witty and with the incredible good taste to find me fascinating. Despite being goonishly smitten with him, his early offer of marriage set me back on my heels, and I resolved to take stock of the situation before making such a major decision.

So, what does a sensible girl ask about a potential mate?

  1. Compatible? Kind? Sexy? Check, check and doublecheck.
  2. Stable? Healthy? Decent earnings potential? Wow–checking out great here.
  3. Bad habits–like extracurricular females, alcohol/drug problems, chronic lies? Nope.

So, I married him.

And only then was his dark secret revealed. I started finding the empty Powells’ bags under the sofa, the crumbled charge slips in the closet, the window suddenly blocked by the custom bookcase and, as time passed, the free “thank you for being such a loyal customer gifts” from

My spouse is a serial book purchaser.

Yes, the How many books do you own thread? made me weep with frustration. Sure, I could play oneupsmanship with youse guys and post Mr. S’s numbers, but I am ASHAMED, not proud.

I love books too, but in a friendly, platonic way–for Mr. S, books are exotic, perfumed sirens to be submitted to and not resisted, their spines to be stroked and their pages to be carressed. As far as books are concerned, he subscribes to the “wisdom is to be found in excess” school.

What I am asking all of you from that thread is: “What would it take to make you stop?”

Well, I haven’t posted to that other thread, yet, but I have 40 boxes of books in storage until we can get some shelves put in, so I think I’m qualified to respond.

What made me stop? I don’t know if you are going to like this…

Babies. I now have about 15 minutes a day–between the end of dinner with my hubby and the time I fall asleep on the couch–to read.

Actually, now that I think of it, we are still accumulating books at a steady rate. They just have more pictures of bunnies in them than they used to.

What cher said. Exactly.

For us the end came with moving to a smaller place in another state.

Staring at 5 bookcases 7’ tall, we just said “what have we actually ever gone back to or even loaned out?”

Those where we could honestly answer “yes” filled one bookcase.

The library would only take a couple of expensive art print volumes.
The rest went to the Friends of the Library, who sold them at “50¢/inch” at the quarterly fundraiser.

Most went unsold, and were sent to the Salvation Army, who said their biggest customers for old books were old folks homes and ultimately to builders to use as props in home models.

When it hit us we had been carting them around for years and they had so little real value to anyone, it stopped that hobby cold. Now we buy virtually no books.

I didn’t post in the other thread either, but I will never stop buying books. I slow down now and then when my financial situation is sucking, but I never totally stop. Even when I have no time to read the ones that are already piling up on my couch (since the bookcase is full). I don’t have kids, so my time isn’t quite as limited as cher3 and lola’s, but between work and classes and writing articles for class and, well, spending way too much time on this board ;), I’ve got no business continuing to buy books. But I keep it up… I’ll get to 'em someday!

Alas, the babies were but a speed bump on the highway to the book stores; worse, they have given him the excuse to start collecting first edition children’s books. Maybe we need more babies to achieve critical mass–surely babies have been conceived in less noble causes.:wink:

We also have plenty of bunny books, which do seem to multiply like, well, rabbits.

If I went blind, I’d stop buying books. Maybe. More likely, I’d learn braille, and buy books on tape.

But your OP and thread title refer to your SO. I don’t currently have an SO, but most of my former ones have felt the same way about books as I do. It’s probably one of my unconscious prerequisites.

My husband instituted a moratorium on book orders until I finish the (hmm, let’s see) five new books I’ve ordered from Amazon. Of course, the next day, I found a Very Good condition copy of The Enchanted April, which is out of print, ordered it, and threw myself on the mercy of the court. Luckily, he understood.

I don’t think anything could actually stem the flow permanently. Aside from love, books are the main reason I regret my mortality.

A library card?

I’m guessing that you’ve already tried rolling your eyes and asking in an exasperated tone, “Are you ever going to read that?” or “Can’t you just check that out from the library?”

I rarely say these things to my hubby. I’m actually a classic enabler.

Death. That’s when I’ll stop buying books.

Yes, I do use the library - mostly for fiction, but sometimes for non-fiction, too. I’ve purchased several books after reading the library’s copy.

Moving will usually get me to get rid of some, but not many. The best part is that my husband also has a book habit!

Oh, and yes, I get thank you gifts from Amazon, Books4less and Varsity Books.

Humble Servant, I feel for you deeply. But, I’m going to tell you, unless Mr. HS is breaking your budget, he’s probably not going to stop and you’re going to need to deal with it. It’s not like he’s buying crack, although I will concede that books are only slightly less addictive. It’s a pity there is no bookaholic meetings. I’d go, but I can stop buying books anytime I want to. I didn’t buy any yesterday, so there!
<pointless and unreassuring anecdotes>
A friend of mine buys fabric. Her husband had no clue how much she owned until some friends helped them move and they humorously piled all the fabric they found hidden in the couch and under the beds in the living room.
Another friend of mine’s husband is a World War Two hobbyist. Uniforms, guns, jeeps, anything, He recently bought a tank. No, I’m not joking. A Tank. For more money than I made last year.

You have few options here. You could move farther away from Powells (G-d, I’d love to live within walking distance of Powells> and hide his modem/slash the DSL line.
What’s the real issue?
He buys the books, creating clutter? If that’s the problem, reserve one room in the house and let him have all the books he can fit into it.
He buys books and doesn’t tell you, leaving unbudgeted surprises on the credit card? Take away the credit card if you are the financial manger in the partnership. This form of uncontrolled spending may take counseling for you to resolve. Designate a book allowance and stick to it.
He buys books you don’t approve of and don’t want in your house? Again, sequester them in one room and don’t go in there.
He spends more time with the books than with you? Fetishism may require counseling. Do you have scheduled “couple” time?, as dorky as it sounds, it does help some relationships.

Don’t threaten to leave unless you mean it.
Don’t believe the other posters who say babies cut down on bookbuying. That may be true for women, but my male friends with babies are still readers. The just learn to turn pages with one hand.

Sorry this is kinda long. To get back to the OP, “What would it take to make you stop?” I think I’d have to gouge my eyes out with my hairsticks before I stopped buying books altogether. Poverty slows me down considerably, but does not stop the urge.

Oh, dear. I’m the bad one in our house. I collect them. I get the leather-bound ones from the Easton Press. Some of them will never be read (e.g. The Federalist Papers), and I know this, but… I’m a completist! I must own them all! Sadly, I’m the same way with music and movies. If I enjoyed it, I must own it. Even if it will never be read, watched, or listened to again. Now we have a DVD player. I’m in deep trouble.

In the words of (I think) Erasmus: “When I get a little money, I buy books. When I get a little more, I buy food and clothes.”

It’s okay, though. My husband collects tools. At least my books look nice in the dining room. :slight_smile:

I too am a book buyer. I am a collector of books. I am not, however, an accumulator of books.

As much as possible I try to make sure that my collection of books grows with purpose, not just for the sake of growing. When I graduated from high school I had over 10,000 books; I have reformed myself.

There are three reasons a book should have value (value meaning it is something you need to keep):

  1. The book is valuable as an artifact. Limited editions, first editions, special editions, etc. The most recent paperback printing of It is not an artifact with value.

  2. The book is valuable for the information it contains. All books contain information of some kind. And that information is going to be important to someone. That does not mean the information is important to you.

  3. The book is valuable for sentimental reasons. This is a highly individual form of value as artifact. Perhaps it was a gift from a friend, or it was the book you were reading when your spouse died.

What compuslive book buyers need to think about (and I was once one) is “why am I giving this book a place in my home.” If the answer is nothing more than “I might re-read it someday” then it can safely be sold/donated. After all, books are cheap (relatively) and if you ever do want to reread the book (unlikely) you can always get new copy.

As for how to make your husband stop, try this:

  1. Make him identify any book book that falls into categories 1 and 3 above (but be strict, “this is the first book I bought from the Rose Room at Powell’s” does not count as emotional value). These he can keep.

  2. Take every remaining book and put them in boxes in the garage (or rent a storage space somewhere). Date the boxes. If he uses a book from one of those boxes he can put it back on one of his shelves in the house. Three years after the date on the box, any books left in that box are sold/donated.

I can’t think of anything that would make me stop. My name is delphica, and I am a bookaholic. I have actually considered learning braille now, just in case I ever go blind. I figure it takes a little while to learn, and I would be frustrated if I was blind first, and missed out on all that reading while I was learning. I have also wondered if learning braille now would be a good skill to have for reading in the dark. The fact that I have devoted time to thinking about these things, and not just a few minutes either – I mean a good deal of time, indicates a severe book addiction.

xtal has some excellent suggestions. I would also recommend asking your SO what he would be willing to give up in order to keep buying books. Doing without the heat and electricity is not an option. But if money spent is the issue, he might be willing to give up, say, magazine subscriptions, or a golf membership, to keep the books.

And keep weeding the collection! Find out if hospitals or nursing homes in your area take book donations. Sometimes programs that teach English as a Second Language to adults will take just about any book written in English. It’s always easier to get rid of them (for me) if I know they’re going somewhere they are needed, and not just tossed out in the trash.

Actually, those anecdotes are reassuring, xtal, and I think your friend with the fabric should offer to reupholster the tank. :wink:

When I point out to Mr. S that the books are making the floors sag, I hear: “I’m NOT on crack and I don’t chase pretty young things and I PROMISE I’ll change and I’m going to rub you’re feet now because you look so hot.” Sigh. I’d never really consider leaving him.

BTW, we bought our 5-bedroom house 10 years ago because it seemd then to have plenty of floor space for the books–we will not be moving again in my lifetime.

Five, ironically, I love books and Mr. S and I spent much time early on haunting used book stores for treasures–I just never expected to live with 15,000 (or more–we haven’t calculated in several years) of them.

Hey, obfusciatrist, I really like the “sell the unopened boxes” idea–we’ve got 20 or so in the attic that qualify right now. The problem is that I cannot enlist Mr. S to help me sell them–I will get the, “but that has sentimental value because we were together on our third date when I got it,” or “I will eventually teach another class on that topic,” schtick; also some of the books may be valuable. If I hauled the boxes to Powell’s, do you think they would give me fair prices?

Maybe I should ask instead how I can best inure myself to living with this obsession. But how can I achieve resignation (oblivion? enlightenment?) in the face of all those, those…words?

In the great blood-letting of 1998 I took most of my books to Powell’s.

Did much better than I expected. Powell’s is pretty liberal with their purchasing policy (or at least they were in 1998). Even then, Powell’s only took about 1/3 of them and the rest went to the Goodwill. But look at the bright side, with any that Powell’s won’t buy you will at least have some affirmation that those books are, in fact, of little value.

Well, here’s the solution employed by a friend of mine who is a rabid reader of mysteries and who lives in a fairly small apartment.

Every year on Boxing Day (she’s not British or Canadian but is an anglophile) she has a party where she sets out all the books she intends to get rid of. Guests are invited to bring books as well, but you don’t have to. Then everyone gets to look over all the books and take whatever they want. The rest are boxed up and donated to whatever institutions will take them. As long as you don’t come home with more than you brought you’re ahead of the game.

I do sympathize (well, not as much as I did at first–we’re trying to make space for our books in a small 2-bedroom apartment for the time being.) If it makes you feel any better, I have another friend whose hubby amassed a collection of something like 50 fish tanks and secretly ran up a debt of over $10,000 buying stamps over the internet. (They are getting divorced now.)

My name is Dr. Fidelius, and I am a bibliovore.

The Wife has had me on a rather strict budget for the past few years. By haunting local Goodwill stores, tag sales, and library sales instead of Barnes & Noble I have been able to buy more titles per week than I was able to buy over months. The books tend to be a little older, but my reading tastes have matured (and if I have not read it yet it is new to me).

My daughters appreciate having an almost complete collection of Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary works, as well as all the “Science in Everyday Things” books on their shelves.

I estimate myself to be approximately four years behind in reading…