Monday, February 12, 2007

Disposing of Old Books

Who wants your old books? Have you tried in vain to sell them at a yard sale or give them to your local library, school, college or thrift store only to be sent away not empty-handed? Have you been told that old library books circulate poorly, old encyclopedias and textbooks become obsolete quickly, college books stores pay a pittance for expensive, almost-new textbooks? Are you reluctant to sell books on Ebay because it is a time-consuming activity? Furthermore the cost of shipping books to third world countries is prohibitive. Used and rare book dealers can be very picky about what they will take or even deign to look at. Storing books takes up space and space in libraries and book stores and your house is at a premium.
What can be done with old books? Book lovers just want to feel that their books have found a better place than the recycling bin, but sadly, that's where many books end their lives. Most people seem to think that all books have some intrinsic value but if you examine that common assumption, it isn't true. Since the advent of the paperback, the information and publication explosion, cheaper printing technology, online databases and texts, a culture that generally likes the new and shiny and disposes with the old, books do not have as much actual (monetary) value as they do sentimental value. And if they have been in the attic, cellar or garage for years, they are probably worthless. Not always, but usually.
Nevertheless, here are some possibilities for disposing of old books:

Book Sales in New Jersey

Harvest Books

But you should know that the following rules about what kinds of books are acceptable applies to every library sale, booktrade website, thrift store or other bookish entity that I have ever seen or dealt with:
from the Harvest Books site
"There are some books we cannot use. Since books we cannot use must be recycled at some expense, we do not accept these types of materials even as a donation:
Books that have been wet or are moldy.
Books without covers.
Books that are in poor condition relative to their vintage. Obviously older books will sometimes show their age. This does not mean they are not valuable. But torn, yellowed or creased copies of last year’s romances or thriller novel will not do us any good.
Encyclopedias -- general reference encyclopedias, such as Britannica, are NOT of any use, even to schools --it’s all available on the computer these days.
Readers’ Digest Condensed Books.
Older editions of travel guides or other books that come out with new editions each year.
Textbooks more than two years old.
No newspapers or magazines, please!"

Essentially, if you don't recycle your old books that are unusable, unsalable, unwanted, obsolete; you are passing on the job to someone else who will recycle them.

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