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Multiple Copies Revisited: When Collections Match

A photo of multiple copies of the same book

This photograph was taken by Cheanguehuae.

In the last post referring to my move, I mentioned that I had all my books in piles. That’s still the case, however the reason is no longer repairs, it’s the far simpler fact that we’ve not yet got bookcases.

Nevertheless as a typical book lover I’m looking to start organising because it’s been too long and those ARCs are still somewhere in the stacks.

My thought today is multiple copies, only this time it’s not me by myself. We have roughly 20 books that are duplicated. We have different views about book spines (deal breaker right there?) and forgive me the following pessimistic thought, but giving away one of each duplicate would cause an issue if we ever split up. So the duplicates will be kept, and most do have differing covers, so that helps, but what do we do? Where do they go?

Could we put them together? It would look like we had a hoarding problem vastly less understandable than having copies of a couple of favourites (and we haven’t the option of saying we wanted the lovely Penguin Classics hardback edition, and so forth). The initial intention was to amalgamate everything but I do wonder if it’ll look odd.

I still want to organise by author name, keeping the exception for certain books, such as Peirene Press and Vintage Classics being grouped by publisher. Books by different authors that nevertheless share a visual theme.

Assuming that at some time everyone has shared shelf space with another, how have you chosen to organise those shelves?



May 21, 2014, 2:15 am

I shelve duplicates together. I have quite a few exact copies that I’ve bought by mistake, but I also buy different editions of my favourite books. You could have a ‘duplicates’ section if you don’t want multiple copies beside one another, but I think it’s kind of nice to let the books hang out together. :)


May 21, 2014, 9:18 am

I think I’d have to have my books separately to my boyfriend, but I’m single at the moment so my views may change per circumstance.

I don’t think it looks like hoarding having duplicates :) just an appreciation for covers.


May 21, 2014, 11:02 am

hmmm…I don’t have any duplicates because my husband doesn’t read. If I ever end up with duplicates, I usually give them away.

I’ve organized my bookshelves by Color and although I didn’t want to do it initially I love the end result.

Tracy Terry

May 21, 2014, 3:17 pm

I suppose we are lucky in that whilst we are both big readers we tend to enjoy totally different genres.

Organised to the point of being obsessive about it as well as all books of the same genre/series being together they are then placed in alphabetical order using the authors last name with his books on certain shelves and mine on others.

Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

May 21, 2014, 7:07 pm

Luckily when I moved in with my husband a month before our wedding we didn’t have too many duplicates. The only ones I remember we had more than one of were Harry Potter, but I passed along my copies to my parents who didn’t have a set at their house. We have no plans of breaking up (who ever does?), but I don’t have worries about getting those books back if I ever had to. So I’m not too much help since I didn’t have the amount of duplication you do! I would suggest though that if you have room on the shelves, why not shelve the duplicates together? I don’t think most people would even notice. And if you don’t have the room, I would probably box up the duplicates and store them somewhere safe & dry, just keeping out any special editions or ones with cool covers, etc. Good luck figuring out what works for both of you :)


May 21, 2014, 7:33 pm

I got married when I had just turned 22, to a person who shared my feeling that selling our duplicate books to a used book store so we could buy new titles together was the most romantic gesture ever.
Since then, however, I’ve acquired a few duplicates as teaching copies, so I keep them in my office, and we’ve acquired a few more because one kid or the other or both wanted a copy of a book we all love. So we insist that the kids have bookshelves of their own, both in their rooms and downstairs where our main library is, with their books stored separately from ours when they don’t want them at college or in their bedroom at home for some reason.


May 21, 2014, 8:17 pm

Mine are all over the place, I’d love for them to be the same but alas not

Literary Feline

May 22, 2014, 12:51 am

It was a long while before my husband and I merged books even after we were married. I don’t think it was until we moved from our apartment into our first house. What to do with duplicates was a big challenge for us–you wouldn’t think so–but we were both attached to our copies. On some, we decided to be brave and part with the extra copy, but in other cases, we decided to keep both. We ended up shelving them next to each other.

In other cases, not related to his and mine, I have both a hardback and paperback copy of several books–the paper copies being ones I bought for ease of carrying around. Sometimes I’ve let those go after reading them in preference for keeping the nicer hardback, but there are a couple in which I’ve kept both copies.


May 26, 2014, 9:29 pm

I think I would put the duplicates together. I haven’t had that problem, but I think I would put them together so that’s easier to find them.
Anyway, hope that shelves arrive soon!


May 30, 2014, 8:03 pm

Violet: Oo, I like that idea, a duplicates section. It would potentially ditch the requirement to explain, as well. Though yes, putting them together is a nice idea.

Alice: That’s a better way to look at it, appreciation for covers. Yes, in this case too, separately works, because reading’s more my thing. That said he’s read 15 books in the last month or so…

VioletCrush: I don’t think I could do it, as I’d worry about not being able to find the book I wanted, but I love the look of shelves sorted by colour. They’re awesome.

Tracy: We’re kind of like that, it’s just that we’ve tried (and in some cases succeeded!) to introduce each other to books. I like having that difference though, it results in a library that’s more varied. Different shelves is an idea.

Christine: I like that idea, of passing them to parents or friends. That’s a sad but true point that few would notice. Storing them – I hadn’t thought of that.

Jeanne: I think if we were more similar getting rid of one copy would work, similar in the way we approach books.Keeping them in your office is a good idea. My not-quite-in-laws suggested I get a bookcase for my study anyway, so that could work. I remember that feeling of wanting my own copy of a book.

Blodeuedd: I don’t know, I think both partners just being readers is a good thing :)

Literary Feline: Yes, that’s kind of how I feel, very attached. You’ve read them, those are your experiences of that book. I think I’ll either end up shelving them next to each other or in a his and hers way, at least for now. That’s a good idea about copies for travelling, and yes, I suppose once they’ve served the purpose you bought them for the hardback is more important.

Isi: That is a good point, so you can find them. Given the amount of searching I’m currently having to do, you’d think I would’ve thought of that!



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