This list is an accounting of the books that Orwell owns and what he has paid for them.
The books that I have counted and priced are the ones I have here, in my flat. I have about an equal number stored in another place, so that I shall double the final figure in order to arrive at the complete amount. I have not counted oddments such as proof copies, defaced volumes, cheap paper-covered editions, pamphlets, or magazines, unless bound up into book form. Nor have I counted the kind of junky books-old school text-books and so forth — that accumulate in the bottoms of cupboards. I have counted only those books which I have acquired voluntarily, or else would have acquired voluntarily, and which I intend to keep. In this category I find that I have 442 books, acquired in the following ways:
[Table of books owned, including “Review copies and complimentary copies.”]
A complimentary copy is a copy of a book given away by a publisher or author as a courtesy. A review copy is a specific case of this, given to critics, authors, or similar experts for them to review, as a professional courtesy. Orwell accounts for these separately from books given to him by his friends.
Now as to the method of pricing. Those books that I have bought I have listed at their full price, as closely as I can determine it. I have also listed at their full price the books that have been given to me, and those that I have temporarily borrowed, or borrowed and kept. This is because book-giving, book-borrowing and bookstealing more or less even out. I possess books that do not strictly speaking belong to me, but many other people also have books of mine: so that the books I have not paid for can be taken as balancing others which I have paid for but no longer possess. On the other hand I have listed the review and complimentary copies at half-price. That is about what I would have paid for them second-hand, and they are mostly books that I would only have bought second-hand, if at all. For the prices I have sometimes had to rely on guesswork, but my figures will not be far out. The costs were as follows:
[Table of costs, including “Shelves.”]
Orwell doesn’t explicitly state it, but we can infer from context that the Shelves entry indicates the amount he paid for the shelves he uses to store the books, as that is often a significant fraction of the total cost of book ownership.