Sunday, July 06, 2008

Unburdening the Shelves

Recently I bought a substantial number of free-standing bookshelves in order to try to bring some order to the piles of books and literary journals that have grown over the past couple of years: on desks, on credenzas, on guest beds, etc. Because those shelves filled virtually all available space in the house, and because when I moved the piles to the shelves there was no extra shelf space left, I resolved to reduce, reduce, reduce.

There are numerous ways of finding homes for old books, and I'm pursuing many of them. Assume, first, that you can identify some number of books with which you're willing to part. This is a major step, but a necessary one. I find more every day. It's getting easier.
  • One option is to just give books to people you know. I had houseguests recently and I managed to get them to take two books with them.
  • Another option is to take the books to a used book store and sell them. Not all stores buy books, though, and often they buy with store credit, which may not help solve the problem.
  • You could give books to libraries or other worth organizations. If that's something that appeals to you, BiblioBuffet, an excellent site for booklovers, has these great suggestions.
  • You could sell them on eBay or Amazon.com. If a book has some value, which you can tell by what used copies are selling for, this may be worth it. It's easy to list books on Amazon.com with the ISBN #. When a book sells, Amazon.com collects the money and deducts a fee. Because of that fee, and because mailing does cost money, and take time, it's not worth the hassle if you can't get at least $1 for the book, and even then you're not making much. So if other people are listing their copy of the same book for a penny, I'll go for one of the other options.
  • BookCrossing.com is something I toyed with a couple of years ago, but couldn't get serious about because I cling to books. Now that I've got some that I can't sell for even a penny, I figure I might as well release them into the wild. The idea is that you register the book at the website. They give the book a unique I.D. number which you can write into the book or print onto a label, along with the instructions for the finder to visit the site. Then you leave the book somewhere--in a coffee shop, an airport, or whatever--and the book finder opens it up and sees the instruction. They visit the site and in this way the book's travels are tracked. So I've just labeled a couple of books and will soon "release" them.

4 comments:

Angharad said...

I get rid of my unwanted books by swapping - at www.bookmooch.com
It's a great site, you should check it out.

Clifford Garstang said...

I've heard of Bookmooch and it's an interesting site. Of course, it's no help if the goal is a net reduction in the number of books! (Which is, I freely admit, an absurd and unreachable goal anyway.)

jaywalke said...

Wow, that Bookmooch site is cool! Thanks.

Cliff: You can join and give books away, then donate your points to charity so libraries can buy books. You'll be out postage, but it will deplete your shelves and warm the cockles of your heart.

Anne said...

That BookCrossing thing is groovy. Thanks for the tip!