Dang, I hate throwing away books

When we moved five years ago, I took so many boxes of “Friends of the Library” books to the library that they screamed, “Help, please make it stop.” And then they complained when I didn’t come to the book sales and take away as many books as I donated. “I’m downsizing,” I explained. They didn’t care.

Later, I unloaded (that doesn’t sound good, “so turned in”) a grocery sack full of books at a local used book store for “store credit.” Luckily, I found a couple of things that looked good. I came out with fewer books than I walked in with.

There were some places to donate books, but they’ve become more selective and, when it comes down to it, I cannot afford to pay the shipping costs for each book I want to get off my shelf.

So, it’s a crime, I know, but I’m now tossing out old, badly dated books in the trash each week. I decided, for example, that I no longer need my 1980 backpacking guide or a stack of paperbacks I didn’t like the first time I read them.

I used to sell these on Amazon, but Amazon has made establishing a seller account more difficult and I can’t compete with the sellers who’re charging a penny per book and trying to make a little on the shipping. Same goes for eBay.

We’ve discussed moving again. That means I need to get rid of a lot of stuff. Books in bulk are really heavy. I don’t feel like going through another move with more books than most small-town libraries.

Plus, boxes of books really tick off moving companies because when they make their estimates, they don’t expect all that extra weight or the time it takes to load those boxes into their truck.

Lately, I’ve been re-reading a lot of books on my shelf (as well as those stacked up in a closet). This is my poor attempt to stop bringing so many new books into the house. The trouble is, my favorite writers keep writing new stuff that I can’t resist. For example, Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) is releasing The Starless Sea next week and Theodora Goss just released The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl, the third “Athena Club” novel. This means that I’m under relentless pressure to throw more stuff away to make room for the new stuff.

What I need, is the phone number for a place that accepts old books for good causes and then sends a truck out to pick them up. So far, no luck.




The Annual Library Book Sale

jeffersonlibraryEvery year, our local library holds a book sale that has become so popular it can no longer be held in the library’s modest lecture room. Now it occupies a huge space at the civic center where multiple tables have been set up with books grouped under multiple subject headings and genres by the Friends of the Library and other volunteers. This year’s library sale will be next week and, as usual, I have collected a box of books to donate for the sale.

The sale has been a good fund-raiser for the library as well as an opportunity for readers to find some great books marked down even lower than the used books (when the shipping costs is factored in) on Amazon. The books tend to sell at a blanket price depending on whether they’re hard cover or paperback. This streamlines the checkout procedure, though I think there are some cases where a few of the more popular, recent books could be marked up.

The Murphy’s Law of Donating Books

Over the years I’ve discovered a universal truth about book sales, a truth that also applies to anything sold on eBay or Amazon or donated to book drives held for various worthy causes: You may not have looked at the book for years, but once you sell it or give it away, you’ll sooner or later want to look at it again, Years ago, after finishing my first fantasy novel The Sun Singer, I sold off an Allerton Park brochure (where the real Sun Singer statue stands) on eBay because the book was done and I needed the money. Years later, I bought it (not the same copy) back on eBay because it was the only source for information I was using to market the novel.

Now, once again, I remember that a book by Eric Berne (widely known for Games People Play) that I’ve been looking for around the house for several days was, in fact, donated to the library book sale several years ago. I wanted information for an upcoming post on this blog about the multiple meanings behind the popular Little Read Riding Hood fairy tale. I’m still going to look at LRRH, as Eric Berne calls her, but the post would be easier to write if I still had Berne’s book about psychological scripts.

My wife and I will probably got to this year’s library sale. I’ve gotten in trouble there before, mainly for buying only one or two books when the librarians remembered me donating 50 books. “Malcolm, you need to take away more than you bring.” Sorry Laura and Amy, but the house isn’t big enough.

I don’t expect to find any books by Eric Berne, but there’s probably going to be something tempting on one of those tables. The librarians know that those of us who are addicted to books are going to show up!

Coming on Monday, February 18th:  Speculative Supernatural Novels and the Growing Fantasy Genre, a guest post by Laura K. Cowan (“The The Little Seer”)

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