M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, March 08, 2004  

Dealing in Volume

Every so often (and sometimes a couple of times a so often), Trash and I will go through some part of our house and get rid of a box or two of clutter. We drop it off at a nearby thrift store, and they give us a receipt for our taxes. They let us fill out how much we think the stuff is worth. I'm terrible at estimating that, so I simply fill in the amount I would have paid to be rid of it. Then our old clutter goes on their showroom floor, to become used clutter for those who can't or won't pay full retail price for new clutter. And as far as I can recall, there's not a thing we've given away that we ended up missing later.

(Except for the things I gave away by accident because they happened to be in my car at the time, but we don't need to get into that.)

So that's how we handle our excess clutter. Stuff that takes up space, that we have too much of, goes out the door in overflowing grocery totes and copy paper boxes without a second thought. Unless, of course, the stuff in question is books.

A couple of months ago, we went through all of our books and decided to get rid of the ones that fill both of us with either hate or overwhelming disinterest. This, too, is a regular process, this being the second time we've done it since we moved here over a decade ago. We were merciless. Of our many thousands of books, the only volumes that survived were the ones we couldn't fit into three grocery bags.

Off to Magers & Quinn, where a guy sorted through them and bought a bagful off of us. This left us with two grocery bags full of books, which I chauffeured around in the back of my car for a couple of months. I was of course careful not to give them away during the donation trips I made to the thrift store during that period.

Last weekend, Trash and I decided to list a bunch of our rejected books on eBay. We put up groups of books in lots of three or four: "Four by Susan Conant," "Six by Sara Paretsky," "Three sort of pretentious artsy-fartsy books," "Seven random books with nothing whatsoever to do with each other." We set our shipping prices low and started the bidding lower still. By the time the auction was over we'd sold one group of books, at a price that nearly covered the amount we'd paid eBay for all of the listings.

You know where else you can sell used books? Amazon. The listing process is less tedious, and unlike eBay, people actually go to Amazon to buy books. We're having much better luck that way. We've bought a lot of books from there, many of them used. It just never occurred to me to make the connection that those used books might have come from somewhere. From people like us, for instance. It is indeed handy to be married to a librarian. She knows things like this.

In the past week, I've made three separate trips to two different post offices with seven bulging, duct-taped manila envelopes crammed with newspaper-wrapped books. The cash pouring into our PayPal account surpasses the postage we're paying, by enough to feed the parking meter in front of Magers & Quinn for an hour. Our regular clutter, we're just glad to be rid of. Book overflow, we want to get value for it. More importantly, we want someone else to get value from it.

We've got curbside trash pickup, many area thrift stores, a city that recycles paper, and a chiminea in the back yard whose charred maw yawns hungrily at us every day. But we want these books to find good homes.

And these are the books we don't even like.

Today's best search phrase: "'On crutches' beach." Man, that sounds like a hard walk.

posted by M. Giant 4:04 PM 0 comments


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