Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Frivolity: Throwing Out Tech Books

I have about 40 feet of shelf space available here at Casa de FUBAR, about half of which is devoted to tech books. Before you even ask: yes I have books on ACM and O'Reilly Safari.

This is not enough shelf space. I really hate to throw rather expensive tech books out, especially as some of those decisions may come back to haunt me, given what I do. There is a lot of legacy stuff out there in the real world, and an old copy of Sendmail Administration (Sendmail? Argh.) might be just what I need, out of the blue, next Wednesday.

One of the things I have found myself doing is bookmarking book reviews to decide whether to buy a title, and deleting them on purchase. Done deal, purchase made, and the bookmark collection is quite large enough already, thank you very much. But that turns out to be more stupid than a very stupid thing, so I don't do that any more.

Now I run on two rules.

  1. As I look through my shiny new purchase, I evaluate my shiny new purchase against those reviews. Essentially, this is reviewing the reviewer. Once burned, twice wary.
  2. Does it suck, but you still have to keep it because of business reasons?
Decide fast, because most tech books become obsolete at the speed of tech change. If you have to keep it, but it doesn't deserve shelf space, archive it (under an index system). If it doesn't even deserve that, sell it on; someone else will have a different opinion. 

If you cannot even sell it on, grit you teeth and recycle it. Price and value are entirely unrelated, and the wrong call on that $65 book is not going to become more sensible as that shiny new title gathers dust in valuable library space. Throw the damned thing out, and make a note of the reviewer who recommended about it. Unless it is some random Amazon review, which you should not have paid any attention to in the first place.

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