Uncategorized | August 08, 2005

If pressed, we can admit this, can’t we? We walk into the house of a friend or a stranger, and our eyes immediately find the bookshelves, begin to assess the contents, and we make instant judgments about the person before us. Hardcovers or paperbacks? Damaged spines or dust jackets in mint condition? Alphabetized by author or title? Organized by genre or date of publication? Books we have? Books we want? Books we’d hide in the basement if we hadn’t given them away at a garage sale?

But what would you say of a man who accumulated a lifetime of books and then began to sell them, both by lot and one-by-one, over the internet? How would you judge him?

Michael Cohen, Professor Emeritus at Murray State University, is one such man. In, “Selling My Library,” a website exclusive, Cohen describes his life-long love affair with books both as ideas and as objects. And he explains his decision to sell.

“I know that this discussion of selling my library is going to seem horrible to a certain kind of reader, like describing the dismembering of one’s child,” Cohen writes. “I know because I have been that sort of reader myself. But bear with me. I will reassure you by saying that I’m not selling all my books. But I have sold more than a thousand of them so far, and I don’t intend to stop soon.”

Michael Cohen is the author most recently of Murder Most Fair: The Appeal of Mystery Fiction (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2000).

Read “Sellling My Library.” Join the discussion.