I've learned that people have strong feelings about books. I do too. I know that telling you to declutter your books may trigger a knee-jerk response of HELL NO DON'T TAKE MY BOOKS. I get it. I was once a lonely teenage nerd and that part of me still views books as my best friends.
I love books. Reading is my go-to pastime. I buy new e-books frequently. I read 30-50 books a year. I love the way printed books smell and feel. I love the way books look lined up on a shelf or stacked up on an end-table.
I tell you this because I want you to know I understand what it feels like to be a book lover before I advise you to give most of your physical books away. I see that horrified look of betrayal, fellow bibliophile. Still, I recommend that you stop collecting physical books and perhaps give away the bulk of your current collection.
The problem with collecting books, let's be honest here, is that most of them aren't going to get a second reading. And that's sad for a book. It just sits there on your shelf, waiting to be read again or lent or given away. Books should be in circulation. They were made to be read.
For all your best intentions, you will probably not re-read that best seller from three years ago. And despite the generous idea that you want your family and friends to peruse your shelves and have a wide variety of books to choose from, that rarely happens, right? Correct me if I'm wrong. By all means, if you're an active amatuer librarian and all of your books are borrowed and read regularly, keep doing what you're doing. Otherwise, let libraries do their job. If the spaces between your books haven't seen the light of day in a year, let those poor books go free. Let 'em fly. Keeping a book without reading it is like keeping a sparrow in a cage for its whole life. Don't be that guy.
I suggest gathering all your books into a single room, and choosing to keep only those that you love so much you re-read or at least flip through them (with a joyful feeling, not a guilty feeling) once a year.
Give away the rest to a library, school, or charity.
Decluttering your books gives you a chance to really enjoy the few that you keep and keep the few that you enjoy.They won't get lost in the rest of your stuff anymore. They'll have a place of honor in your life, and they'll make it better.
Many people feel wasteful/guilty if they get rid of a book they haven't read yet or that they feel they could learn more from. If you've had it for a while and you still haven't read it, give it away. Let someone else enjoy it. And if in the future you find yourself with a strong desire to read it, get an e-copy of the book. Which leads me to...
I Love My E-Reader
It's not the same experience as reading a printed book, but for me, the benefits of an e-reader far outweigh the disadvantages.
My Amazon cloud holds a library of hundreds of books. No matter where I find myself - in a park on a beautiful day or waiting in the doctor's office, I can take my pick from my current reading list.
On my Kindle App, I can simply press on a word I don't know and the dictionary definition appears. I can also borrow some books, or join a subscription service for access to certain books and periodicals. By buying e-books, I'm saving trees, which is icing on the cake.
There are several e-readers available, and now apps available for tablets and laptops and smartphones, making the book-buying process faster, easier, and less expensive.
Not every book is available in electronic format, and there will always be some books you want to have a physical copy of. But there's no need to have a large collection of books collecting dust and being moved from place to place. Unless, that is, you truly feel that your life would be worse without them.
Every bit of space in your home and energy in your life matters. It counts. Make conscious decisions about how your are going to "spend" your space and energy. Use them on things that fill your life with love and joy. If books do that, keep some around in physical form and more in electronic form.