Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are old books like old clothes?

It's that time of year again. In my annual fit of de-cluttering, I'm wondering if I can cull my gigantic book collection and free up some space that way. It seems like my house is a bermuda triangle of books- they come in, but they don't go back out.

So my question for the blogosphere today is, what's the statute of limitations?

I know the rule for clothes is 1 year. I've more or less got a system for giving old clothes away to charities throughout the year.

I know this won't work for books, though, since I have books from college that I end up referencing sporadically every few years, but when I do, man am I glad I kept them!

Is there some formula that includes the cost/rarity of the book (e.g. science textbook with my notes in the margin + $70 original cost) and how far out of date it may or may not be (bought 15 years ago) and how heavy it is (i.e. how likely I am to want to move it should I have to pay by the square foot and/or ton)?

And what's the best way to get rid of books? Keeping in mind that some of these have been highlighted and scribbled on quite a lot, so maybe aren't appropriate for donation to the local library (which has surprisingly high standards for what they'll take).

Meanwhile I'm wishing there were something like a reverse ice-cream truck for furniture, that would drive through neighborhoods periodically (or maybe only in certain seasons?) play a little song and then you could run outside and tell them to take a certain piece of crappy old furniture away (or three)?

Some of this stuff is so crappy, I think even Goodwill or Freecycle would turn it down, but I'm still going to try to give it away, since I don't own a truck or even know anyone who does...

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At 5:26 PM, Blogger Ian said...

Books? No, you never part with books. Ever. Not unless you happen to store them in your friend's basement for a couple days when you're in the process of moving...and the sewer pumps back up the day after you put them in there and six feet of sewer water in the basement destroys them all.

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Ottayan said...

If it is a good book, there are no two questions. I want them with me.

It is a different equation, when it comes to the borderline books.
Thats when I let my emotional side decide.

But your problem is slightly different, I beleive you are talking about your academic books.

You really have a job on hand.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Image Goddess said...

Not sure where you are but sometimes there are parishes and university organizations that take book donations then have a book sale once or twice a year, selling the books really cheap for various reasons.

Me, I have a very, very hard time getting rid of books. I tend to pack them away in boxes, or they often get passed among friends and family. Out of options, just recycle.

And a rule for 1 year for clothes??? Where have you heard that? That's a new one for me.

At 7:28 PM, Blogger George said...

I've never figured out a real solution to the book problem but I have managed to cull my books from 160 banker's boxes to 90 boxes. (What can I say? I have a PhD in English). I live in a one bedroom small apartment and due to contract lecturing move often.

What I do is try to clear out three books per day. I have a huge canvas give-away bag. I get up in the morning and decide what three books are going into it. When the bag is full, I give it to a past student whom I mentor. She carts it away, takes what she wants and gives the rest to her church and a local small town library, or to her mother and friends. The give away of three books per day saves me the stress of thinking, how can I really give my books away. If I try to think about clearing out boxes of books, it becomes impossible, but three a day doesn't seem like much of a task.Anyway, this was the best solution I could come up with. Perhaps it will work for you too.


At 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Books should never be given away, unless you have two copies of the same one.

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Jenny F. Scientist said...

Local book bank/ reading program/ schools in need? They don't care about scribbling usually.

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Saedel said...

Hi, found your site from Ottayan.. anyway, we have the same dilemma. But in my opinion, if you're serious in cleaning up, outdated technical/academic books need go.. either by donating, selling or passing. Books that touched my life, like novels, I keep it. If it means so much to me, I give it to people who are important to me... because I know they'll treasure it as well.

If you decided to donate it, I think Goodwill accepts book donations. The last time I've been there I saw books about Windows95! :P

Good luck and let us know what you decide!


At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's like porn magazines. I keep all my old porn. I would really like to throw them all away, but they make my penis happy. I'm also taking a male enhancement product called extenze, (you may have seen the infomercial at 3am) and it works great.

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous meijusa said...

you can of course also release your books into the wild via bookcrossing!


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