The Annual Calibre Library Cleanup, and What I Learned This Year
March 28, 2013 | 1:15 pm
By Joanna Cabot
Every year, at around this time, I do a big e-book purge. Something about March Break brings out the spring cleaning demon, and when I need a break from cleaning my physical home, I curl up with my Macbook and tackle my digital one.
My goals in years past have been to clean up metadata and cover art, complete missing series runs and prune out the freebies I really didn’t ever plan to read. My goal this year? Reduce, reduce, reduce!
I simply have too many books in my to-read pile. I don’t remember where all of them came from, and I don’t care. I just want a leaner, meaner collection so that when I am ready for something new to read, I can open up my Calibre library and not be paralyzed with choices!
So, what were my targets this year?
1. Series that never took off
I always re-name alleged series books to include a volume number so I can easily keep track of which ones I’m missing. What I found when I skimmed my to-read list was a large block of books which were number one in a series, but had no other books.
Many of these were from Smashwords; I suspect they came from Read an E-Book Week samplers of the past, and my suspicion is that in many of these cases, an author released the one book and then didn’t get the results they hoped for, and either gave up or moved on to other projects.
I deleted the ones whose blurbs did not impress and then did a quick search on a few that looked interesting, just to see if there were new releases I had missed. There were not, so I let these books go.
I prefer non-fiction and stand-alone novels these days, but when I do go for a series, I want that immersion into a whole, developed world. I don’t want an amateur effort that the author never nurtured the rest of the way. Delete!
2. Series that were missing books in the middle
On the other side of that coin were series which seemed to be missing bits and pieces off the middle. I suspect some of these came from Kindle freebies or deals of the day, where a random book or two was there for the taking and you were expected to go back and buy the rest.
With some of these, I did just that (or plan to). Others were maybe not as compelling a package. If I saw a handful of books with a gap somewhere in the numbering, I took a hard look at the blurb and the first few chapters. Then, I decided: Either I would keep the book, and commit to the series—all of it—or I’d delete the lot of them and read something else.
This is another I get a lot in the random Kindle freebies, and it’s a tricky one. I do enjoy a good memoir. A lot of my best reads are non-fiction, and I love getting these glimpses into other people’s interesting lives.
But I really don’t enjoy a bad memoir, and I deleted almost 50 books that fell into this category. Most of them were a little too navel-gazing; they spent too much time exploring parts of the author’s life that really shouldn’t have been part of the story. A few of them also faced the virtual chopping block because the sample chapter smacked of the amateur—typos, poor editing, formatting glitches and so on. I can’t stand that stuff!
4. Anything too error-filled to be enjoyable for me
It wasn’t only memoir books that had this problem. If the book twigged my ‘world’s biggest slushpile’ radar, it was out of there. I can’t stand to leave an error in there, since I often do come back to books later. I can handle fixing a typo or two, but if it starts to look like more of a copy-editing project than a reading project, I am more likely these days to just give up.
There are plenty of other books to read; I am not going to waste my time on something that’s going to be so much work!
5. Books I downloaded for the wrong reasons
Sometimes, a book will cross my path that I wouldn’t otherwise purchase, but it’s free, or discounted, or on special. And then on second thought, I probably won’t read it.
Maybe it’s a genre I don’t generally read, but the book won an award or something, and I’m curious. Maybe it’s nonfiction on a subject that interests me enough to want to read more about it, but on second thought, not enough that the ‘more’ has to be an entire book. Maybe it’s a book that was recommended to me by someone else, and when I try it, it turns out not to be my thing.
When I do my annual purge, these books all go!
It’s not all bad news, though. My big purge this year was of the indie one-hit-wonders who never wrote the second book, but one of my big discoveries has been the ones who are—I know the prolific J.A. Konrath gets a lot of press, but his sometime-partner Blake Crouch is a great suspense author and has dozens of books available. I have been slowly picking up his backlist and am reading some of those.
Simon Haynes has revived his Hal Spacejock series with a new Hal Jr. spin-off I haven’t yet explored. I discovered a Smashwords-based publisher during Read an E-Book Week who is republishing backlists of some noted Canadian authors. I have plenty to read!