Thursday, January 03, 2008

Culling Our Books

When my mother is asked to describe the relationship I have with my wife and the likelihood of its success, she invariably says something along the lines of, "oh, the two of them were made for each other, they both read books."

There's a lot more going on with S___ and I, but I'd be peeved with my mom more if she hadn't helped us move into our apartment together and watched box after box of books come in. If you've ever helped us move, thank you. I know the books are the heaviest, after the sea chest (partially full of books) and the antique jelly cupboard (those colonists made their jelly storage devices to withstand the ravages of savages and catholics).

We have six regular sized bookcases and they're all full. This is a problem, since we've refused to learn an object lesson and stop buying books. We considered a rule that no new books should be bought until we had read all the ones in the house, but that did not make it out of committee. We tried an experiment where we just went to the library, but it was bothersome because all the good ones were checked out. We also made a charitable donation to Arlington County because we're lazy and couldn't be bothered to get the books back in time.

I don't know what it is about books, but if we did this with porcelain figurines or star wars pogs you, our dear friends, would not be the sexy and fashionable people that you are. Your clothes would fit poorly and you would smell like sourdough bread. Because we have a maddening surfeit of books instead, not that many people think we're nuts.

I have a hard time getting rid of books, even when I won't ever need or read them again. One of my favorite things is to have friends browse the shelves while we make dinner or put on our BSG cosplay (I go as Caprica Six, S___ as Baltar. Hot hot hot!) and hear, "Is this any good? Can I borrow it?" We have an apartment full of ideas and you can just walk in and borrow one. I like that and I don't think that will ever change.

However, it's a small apartment full of ideas and some ideas are apparently worth culling. We kept a pile of books in our living room the same way some people keep cardboard boxes of kittens in the front yard. Free to a good home, but not that many takers. What we were left with are weighty fantasy tomes from S___, most of my Stephen King and all of my Tom Clancy, two Ayn Rands, and some Middle East history and politics books that we had duplicates of. I just put them all on half.com last weekend and I've had six buyers so far- we've got cut-rate prices and our inventory must be reduced!

What is interesting (the payoff of the whole post! soon!) is that selling best so far are pulpy fantasy novels and that these are selling to rural addresses. I imagine part of that is due to the spring semester not starting yet, but I was surprised by the rural route numbers or towns with "elk" or "raccoon" in their names. When I want to load up on trash fiction, I can hit two decent used books stores in the area and take out a sack of books. Of course, they rarely want to take these back and we arrive back to our storage problem. If you don't have one of these stores nearby, however, what a treat half.com must be- the selection far surpasses anything you're likely to find locally and you can often pick which book has less wear and tear. Hell, you can even find an earlier edition without the movie cover if that bothers you.

The unfortunate thing is that while my books are being sold at used bookstore prices (generally between 75 cents to a dollar), there's the additional two dollars in shipping. I do feel bad about that- right now I'm wrapping the books in old grocery bags, just like I used to when I couldn't afford wrapping paper, and sending them as media mail through the post office. I couldn't possibly charge less money for shipping. Still, it's nice to know that somewhere out in rural America people are gathering their own collections, even if I should send a note saying "you'll grow out of it" with the Ayn Rand books.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Jess said...

I need another bookcase. I still haven't unpacked my books from the move out of Chetan's.

4:09 PM  
Blogger *moosie* said...

your mother actually said that line to me, almost verbatim.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Alcarwen said...

i second that... i distinctly remember your mom saying that exact line when moving you in and sometime over the summer at one of the pre-wedding deals. ;-)

i hate to argue her logic... but if reading is the sole basis for a couple's staying power, i could be destined to end up with the most pretentious assface in my department. blech. i bet he loves ayn rand.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Wait...didn't she also say that in her wedding toast?

3:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home