I wanted to tell you to help you. I'm prompted by "We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is
heartbreaking. 'They’re more like friends than objects,’ one passionate bookseller
says. What are we to do with our flooded shelves?" by Karen Heller
Book lovers are known to practice semi-hoardish and anthropomorphic tendencies. They keep too many books for too long despite dust, dirt, mold, cracked spines, torn dust jackets, warped pages, coffee stains and the daunting reality that most will never be reread. Age rarely enriches a book. “Nobody likes to throw a book away. Nobody likes to see it go into a bin,” says Michael Powell of Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. Owners never want to see their hardback babies pulped. Bibliocide seems particularly painful in this fraught era of banned books. Hence, the sprouting of Little Free Libraries everywhere, and donations to public ones for resale, which enable staff to purchase new books.
Yes, there are Little Free Libraries all over my neighborhood here in Madison, and I considered taking my doomed books out, one by one, and tucking them away in other people's little front-yard book cabinets, but they didn't belong there. They would crowd up the space inappropriately. I'd be using someone else's amenity to relieve myself of a guilt that I shouldn't even feel. What were these books? Out-of-date law school casebooks, books that served purposes that are now much better served by websites, books that had been sent to me but were never of any interest, books that were some author's calling card and never really meant to be read at all.
“We don’t want them to die. I love them. They’re a part of me,” says author and Georgetown linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, 77....
That's true of some books, but not others, unless you're much better than I am about choking off unworthy books at the entry point. I've found that the more books I can kick out of my house, the better concentration of good books I have. I have taken piles of books to the used book store and sold them for whatever they decided to offer me, but some books really ought to go straight into the trash. It's like when you clean your closet. You have the clothes you keep, the clothes you're going to take to Goodwill (or give to someone you know), and the clothes that belong in the trash (or rag bag). You shouldn't — out of misplaced guilt — add the throw-out clothes to the Goodwill bag. That's doing more work to impose more work on them. Be rational, and throw them out.
I avoid creating new trash, but pretending the trash you have is not trash is not helping. I used to buy stacks of books and have them all over my house. Now, I mostly only buy ebooks. And I've worked on ousting many of the physical books from the house. For a long time, that meant taking old books to the used book store, but I had a strong barrier against throwing books out.
But just last month I crossed that barrier. I was tired of looking at one particular pile of books that I'd wanted to be rid of for years, and I knew it would be stupidly inefficient to push them onto someone else to involve them in what I didn't want to have to see as destruction. I took responsibility for putting them in the trash, and I'm proud of it and I'm talking about it for the sake of efficiency, de-cluttering, and relief from the false sense of obligation to preserve books. I'm saying this for your sake: Some books should be preserved, but don't preserve objects simply because they are books.
With the exception of rare and antiquarian collectors, few owners know the monetary value of their holdings. Invariably, they overvalue them.
That well-thumbed encyclopedia? Worthless. Textbooks? Updated umpteen times, probably shifted to digital. “Very expensive books are a big nothingburger,” book scout and estate buyer Larry Bardecki says, especially coffee-table doorstops. Best-selling hardcovers from 10 years, 50 years or a century ago? Possible literal pulp fiction.
“Everyone who wants one already has it,” says Bardecki, who makes as many as three house calls daily, often for Wonder Book. “I’m looking for books that not everyone has.”
Authors prized by one generation are not necessarily valued by the next. “Everyone had a volume of Tennyson in the 1870s,” Roberts says. “Nobody reads Zane Grey.” Don’t get him started on Dan Brown’s 2003 “The Da Vinci Code.”...
“David Foster Wallace was immensely popular and prices spiked for a while. We couldn’t keep copies in the store,” says Zachary Greene, also a manager at Second Story Books. “Over the past few years, demand has really tanked.”