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Ask HN: Did you throw away all of your college textbooks and regret it?
10 points by schillingt 1515 days ago | hide | past | web | 17 comments | favorite
I'm trying to determine if it's worth keeping four large boxes for the rest of my life or if I should get rid of my college textbooks now. What have you done?

I'm not sure about the rest of your life, but I would wait a few years to decide. It's going to take a while for you to adjust from what's important inside school to what's important to you in "real life", and then you can make a better decision about which books might actually help you.

Did you throw away all of your college textbooks and regret it? What have you done?

No, I rarely part with a book under any circumstances. Of course, the downside to this is that my apartment looks like that of the book dealer guy from that movie Unfaithful. I've long overflowed all of my shelf space, and now have books stacked up all around the place. I keep meaning to pitch some of the obviously no-longer-useful ones (especially the ones on obsolete, closed-source, proprietary technologies like ASP, ActiveX, etc.) but I have a real strong aversion to throwing books out.

After college (see my top-level reply) I became the same way for some years. I eventually came to realize that a lot of my books truly no longer held any value to me, and I would almost certainly never open them again. I've managed to clear out about 10-15% of my collection, which actually did marvels for making the place look tidier.

Of course, I'm also continuing to buy more books, so, um...

Maybe someday I'll come to like ebooks just as much, but so far I'm not counting on it.

Yeah, for a technology enthusiast, I'm something of a luddite when it comes to books. I mean, not totally, as I've purchased 3 Nooks over the years (the last one because I lost the first 2, but still...)

I've found that e-books occupy a certain niche for me, and they haven't replaced dead-tree books in general. I love my ebook reader when flying (I can carry hundreds or thousands of books on the plane with me! How awesome is that?), and when reading in bed at night (when I'm ready to go to sleep, I just close the cover and close my eyes. No need to fumble around with the lamp, etc.)

That said, most of my ebooks are pirated and are limited to specific niche topics - my collection of ebooks doesn't even begin to rival my physical library in breadth. Maybe eventually, but we'll see...

No, I kept almost all of them. I bet that out of maybe 40 textbooks, I've used maybe 4 - all programming-related (Programming Pearls, Numerical Recipes, some algorithm texts). I also have hundreds of non-textbooks sitting in boxes now.

Doing it all over again today with what's available online, I'd get rid of almost every book after I was done with it. They are so easy to replace that it's not worth the hassle and storage. Think of Amazon / eBay as your book storage mechanism.

I once pointed out, to a former grad school roommate, a big fat general relativity textbook sitting on my bookshelf. I said that even though I didn't use it any more and had forgotten its contents, it was hard for me to throw it out. "Of course not!" he replied, "It's the only proof you have that ever knew any of that stuff."

It's gone now. I've gotten rid of most of my textbooks, but I still retain a sampling for sentimental reasons.

Nope. I do regret not reading more, but have found that your local library (and local college library) has what you need, when you need it, 99% of the time.

There are a few treasured texts I keep (Elements of Style, a really good programming book written by a professor) that I kept, but I ditched 95% of them and never missed a beat.

I kept all the definitive language references (K&R for example), and theoretical books that I thought would be applicable, but got rid of most of the rest. I didn't even really use textbooks the last year or two of school, so it was mostly just undergrad classes that I had left.

I gave the bulk of mine away and kept only those that had value to me still.

While it's increasingly becoming harder for new students to use old text books due to the habits of publishers releasing new versions yearly and educators go along with it, there is still a lot of value to a new student in a slightly older text.



I sold most of them after I was done with them, usually for a tiny fraction of what I paid. A few retained value well.

At the time, I didn't expect to ever want the books again, but after a few years, I wished I had kept some that I got rid of.

After the first term, I mostly stopped buying books and used the library instead. The books I did buy I've hung on to.

Today, I mostly regret not living close enough to an academic library to visit when I want.

I've kept about a dozen, mostly higher level, books and chucked the rest. Of those I've probably used 3-4 over the past few years, and I've never missed any of the ones I chucked.

Maybe a more relevant question: How many times in the last few years did you reference one of your books?

Unless you're keeping them for nostalgia/sentimental value.

At age 32 I sold those that had still had any resale value. Recycled most of the rest, and hung on to three with nostalgic value.

I sold almost all of them, being a penniless student. And yes, I regret it.

It's my notes I regret throwing out.

The books, I could replace on Amazon or eBay if I chose.

Out the day I graduated.

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