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Angst (pity party)

The Weight of Stuff

Posted on 2009.08.02 at 12:02
As part of my moving I'm trying to be very good about culling. This has included one of the hardest tasks for me:

Getting rid of books.

I'm a pack rat in general, but I'm a bibliophile as well. I like the look and feel of books. I like having a bookcase full of books. It is part show-off "Hey world, this is what I've read and what I like." It is also part visible history tracking. Here are the Xanth books from my teen years. Here is the spat of Sailor Moon and other mangas from college. There are my Wicca books and my search for spiritual resolution. Over there are my stash of well worn fantasy paperbooks. Nearby is the transitory fantasy/romance novels. Then there are the really Harlequin and historial romance novels. My writing books I've collected over the years. Etc. The various strata that make up my development of me, my touchstones for how I've learned to see the world.

To a much lesser extent (though it used to be more) books were also my library. I would lend them out, but I haven't done so nearly as much, in no small part because I don't entertain as much as I used to.

I look at my books and I see value for re-reading, I see an investment in entertainment, and I see all the above. But I also see weight of a move. And (with a small nudge from Jason) I'm really evaulating them. Truth time: I rarely re-read books. I have a few, but the vast majoirty of books I read once. As noted above, I don't lend them out and at this point, I don't think of lending them even when possibly appropriate. While I tell myself that Jason may read them at some point, as an added value, our tastes are different and he's already either read or dismissed the chance at reading most of the books. I also have not a small number of books that I'll never read. Ones I picked up on a lark during my years pursuing the writing angle. So I really do have very weighty collection of dust-collectors.

I've managed to fill a large duffle bag twice with books. First cull was easy stuff: TSR/WotC fiction from when I was doing research for the Forgotten Realms and Eberron submissions. Same for some White Wolf Fiction. Books I've owned for more than 7 years and never read. Books that I don't even recognize the author name any more. Some YA that I won't lend out. Doubles of a very select few. Poker books as I'm not dealing and not playing much any more. For my efforts, I was able to sell them for $18. That was way less than I was expecting for 30 odd books, less than 50 cents per. But, as noted these were ones I didn't value and probably wouldn't move quickly so okay, I can deal with supply & demand.

The next set was harder. I pulled a lot of SFBC editions in hardbound, full series by authors whom I like (McCaffery, Lackey, etc.) but not my faves (Freedom series, Storms series, etc.) I pulled the entire Landover, Kingdom for Sale, Sold! in hardbound. I pulled some misc. books I'd missed on my first cull. I pulled the Witchworld books from Norton that I've never read even though I bought them at a used bookstore years ago. etc. This haul was heavier in both weight I had to physically carry and weight in my heart. But I consoled myself with the fact that these books would fetch a greater price. So I trudged them down to Half-Price Books and waited. When my name was called, I went up and was told: $14.

I didn't mean to, but I whined and argued (nicely, in a civil tone) with the lady. Why was the price so low? She said that they have a very hard time reselling the Book Club books. Okay, I don't really understand it but I'll believe her. But I looked at the pile of book club books, and she'd lumped original publishers in there. Like, Del Ray and Tor hardbounds. When I asked her, she said that they were the same size as the book club books (WHAT?) and that the authors in question (notably Terry Brooks and the Landover series) sold better in paperback. I finally left off questioning her and left the books there, but my heart was heavier than when I came in.

The emotional struggle to give up my collection is hard enough. It is worse to go through that emotional journey and then be kicked in the teeth by being told that these things you value and glady paid $6-10 each for are worth roughly a quarter (which they will either give away or resell). The books that I didn't care about (a Joy of Signing and some other stuff) was getting more like $0.75 - $1.00 each (definately to be resold). I know that I'm taking a hit by selling to a third party who then has to resell and make back the money for the person who helped me and the storage anf iling, so I understand I'm going to get 10-20% of their true resale value. But it just seems like so little for treasures that transport you.

This isn't an entry so much looking for help (I could privately sell them if the money mattered, but my time matters more to me). This entry is mostly me, examining my feelings and saying good bye to the books I've already gotten rid of and prepping myself to get rid of more.



aneska_ at 2009-08-02 19:17 (UTC) (Link)
I understand. I have found that it is not worth it to me to take them to a used book store anymore. I just take them to the library and donate them.
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-02 19:20 (UTC) (Link)
My understanding is that if Half-Price Books can't/won't sell them they donate them. FAQ here Those items we have trouble selling may end up in our Clearance section or be donated. We donate hundreds of thousands of unsold books every year to schools and non-profit organizations around the country and overseas. I've donated to the library in the past (Hayward) and always felt a little off? Like they were just going to toss them instead of lend/sell. =[

(Of course they also mention the book club thing there, so doh to me).
Timothy Carroll
codrus at 2009-08-02 21:36 (UTC) (Link)
I'm still in the ongoing process of trying to figure out how to cut my book collection in half. Mostly because books + games + electronic junk has definitely expanded beyond what I have room to keep.
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:37 (UTC) (Link)
It was really fun to uncover the various strata of reading habits.
lyahdan at 2009-08-02 21:44 (UTC) (Link)
When I moved to the studio and had to get rid of something like 3/4 of the books that had traveled with me to that point...ouch.

Now, I tend to pull a few that I think will actually return money worth my time to sell and donate the rest to SPCA or the library.

I'm finding my library more and more down to a handful of fiction that I will/do reread, a tinier handful that have sentimental value, and the bulk are reference or gaming books. Even the reference ones I'm getting pickier on. "Does this have anything that I'm likely to pull a book out for, or will I just hit the internet."

And with rearranging the entire apartment, I have another pile to send out into the world since the last time I culled. *sigh*
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:38 (UTC) (Link)
The "will I ever come back to this or use the internet" justified a few of the writing and herbal ones.
tsgeisel at 2009-08-02 22:09 (UTC) (Link)
If you think the value return for books is bad, try CDs. Ugh.
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:38 (UTC) (Link)
Eeek. I've never tried that but I can see that being frustrating.
Brian Williams
groblek at 2009-08-02 22:32 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I don't even try to get money for books I'm culling - they just go to SPCA thrift after friends pick them over first. I'm pretty bad at getting rid of books too, though the majority of my collection is the ones I've thought good enough that I was willing to ship them to NZ and back, so they were culled pretty hard then. That was pretty hard to do, and there are a few I've regretted getting rid of - I've mostly acquired new copies of those, though. Now, most of my books are ebooks, so storage space didn't prompt getting rid of many this move.
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:37 (UTC) (Link)
Yah, I think you did an amazing job with the NZ move. And I'm glad you were able to keep it down since then.
rbus at 2009-08-02 22:59 (UTC) (Link)
i used to own thousands of books, seeing them as tangible proof of my smartness. i moved all of them exactly once, proving to myself how dumb i actually was.

luckily, in the little town i found myself, there was an article in the weekly newspaper describing how one of the local churches was accepting "all kinds of books" to help build an library somewhere in Appalachia. they were delighted with all i had to give them. equally so with the author-subject card catalog i had built up over the years. as poor as i was, i considered it fair payment when *they* came and picked them up.

it was odd getting rid of them. and i felt badly about it, kinda. but it was also a liberation from things past. it still makes me smile to think of far-flung kids getting their start in SciFi with one of my Asimovs, or sailing up the Congo with my Conrad, or looking up some big word in one of my dictionaries.

a good experience all in all.
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:38 (UTC) (Link)
That is a lovely story!!!!!
rbus at 2009-08-03 12:58 (UTC) (Link)

i might have mentioned, before, that after my dad died we found that all of his important possessions literally fit inside a single cigar box - with plenty of room to spare. it was the best gift he could've given us. nothing to fight over. nothing to split up. nothing to worry about.

that's what i'm shooting for,
own nothing. have everything.
(Deleted comment)
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:40 (UTC) (Link)
See, I never knew the thing about the book club books before this. My mom confirmed that she's had books my dad got through them fall apart. I almost treasure my SFBC editions more cuz they feel special.

Good marketing I guess?
avivalasvegas at 2009-08-03 00:41 (UTC) (Link)
Totally understandable. Spouse wants me to go through the books I have and pick some to get rid of however I please... granted, I am sure that there are some that I will not re-read, and I don't have bones about giving them to friends, but I am with you - it feels like getting rid of friends to just dump them.

I am fending him off by reminding him that the volume would be much worse if I did not make use of the library system. :)
zhaneel69 at 2009-08-03 04:40 (UTC) (Link)
I'm really only able to cull when moving. I don't think I could put the effort in otherwise.

And yes, using the library is a great idea.
fallen42 at 2009-08-03 18:04 (UTC) (Link)
I've been thinking about doing the same thing with my classic gaming collection. It's taking up a lot of space and roms are really small.
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)
mabfan at 2009-08-04 01:08 (UTC) (Link)
I don't have much to add except to say that I feel very much the same about my own library. I have books I've owned for years, and I can't imagine doing that much culling. But I did for our last move, because I had to.
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