I have a problem with books. My problem is that I like to read books that are typically hard to get at your local library. I also like to occasionally be able to quickly reference something I read, because I usually remember where I read something (down to the location on the page), but I don’t remember the details exactly. Therefore my one weakness is buying books. Too many books as it happens. Books take up a lot of space and they weigh a lot.

I have solved the problem with research papers. Those I keep in a folder on my hard disk catalogued by first author name. Thus when I need a paper, I simply dig into the folder and double click on the pdf. I have thought of getting a Kindle to solve the book problem in a similar fashion but as long as Kindle books still cost more than an equivalent used book, I’m not buying. I actually did buy a kindle which was one of my better gadget purchases. I still don’t like the fact that I don’t actually own the book and thus I only use my kindle for library books. If I want to own the book, I still buy the paper version. I prefer resale value over convenience.

Now for the reasons above, it is very hard for me to get rid of books even when I haven’t opened them for years and in particular because new books keep coming in through the front door. So I have adopted the following strategies

  1. Sell them again. I used amazon.com which takes a hefty profit. If the book doesn’t sell for at least $4 — more if it is a big text book — it’s not worth it, but generally the process is painless, especially if you save the padded envelopes that you got when you bought other used books. It should be easy to set up. If you are already a buyer, selling is a cinch. Just click on the “Have one – sell yours here”-button once you found the book. Another site with cheaper commissions is half.com. I have not tried them yet, so I can’t speak for them.
  2. For books worth less than $4, I just found a marvelous site called paperbackswap.com. The idea is that you list your books and others do the same. They all trade for $0, but when someone requests one of your books and you send it (you pay postage) you get 1 credit which you can use to request other books which are sent to you (they pay postage). Books with ISBN numbers are very easy to list (easier than amazon.com). Books without ISBN numbers require a lot of typing: author, title, dimensions (get your ruler out), publisher, and back cover. The good thing is that if you list 10 books you get two credits for free! Check it out and if you decide to join tell them that extremejacob sent you when asked for a referral πŸ˜‰
  3. The third best option in my mind is freecycling. Here you won’t get anything in return, but at least the book will go to someone that will appreciate them. Also you only have to post them to your local freecycle group and someone will come and pick them up for you.
  4. Donating to Goodwill or Salvation Army or others is a close third. Presumably the book will eventually go to someone who appreciates it.

This obviously also works with CDs and DVDs. For instance, there’s SwapaCD and SwapaDVD. It might also work with computer games?

If anyone has additional suggestions please leave a comment.

Originally posted 2008-03-13 07:25:57.