Stuff 3: Books 6 July 20, 2016

I ended up getting rid of all nine boxes of books, more than 200 of them: five boxes I’d earmarked for neighbours, and four to try on bookstores.

Putting out boxes of books for the neighbours was quite a lot of fun. (There’s obviously something wrong with my life.) As it turns out, it takes three or four days for people to empty a box of 20 or 25 books, and since I put the boxes out one by one, there were three weeks of free books in my front yard under the big Norway maple.

IMG_2075Lurking behind the curtains—and I’m not terminally pathetic; I didn’t do this often—I would see dogwalkers stop and paw through the box. (Sorry). Most would leave with a book or two. Couples of all ages and genders would usually stop for a look, although three or more people walking together would seldom pause.

Among couples, there would almost always be one person interested in the books and another who stood there looking indulgent. Once a child took a book and left a box of flashcards in return. The non-fiction usually went first. The time I put out a dozen plays—how did we end up with three copies of Romeo and Juliet?—someone took the lot, looking both disapproving and stunned. Disapproving, perhaps, that I was getting rid of plays. Stunned at the world’s bounty.

Yet my forays with the four boxes of books for sale proved discouraging. After finding a parking space near the bookstores, and humping in four boxes of recent books in good condition, I met wariness from booksellers, uniformly glum expressions, even though I’d gone in first to ask if they were interested.

At the first store, the woman behind the counter checked the boxes at speed.

“These are good books,” she said. “People don’t read good books.”

She took ten, mostly mysteries and Margaret Atwood. (How did I end up with two copies of Oryx and Crake?) Paid $9 for the ten, although I snuck back a few days later and saw the Atwoods and the remaining mysteries on sale for $8 or more apiece.

At the second bookstore, Circus Books at Danforth and Jones, the bookseller took half of the remainder, my choice of $45 or a store credit. He liked good books. Support him.

That left two fullish boxes and a third store where the man behind the counter said, “You don’t have any DVDs, do you? Boxed sets. That’s what people want. Game of Thrones.”

“What about the Game of Throne books by George Martin?” I asked.

“You don’t have ’em. People who have ’em don’t sell ’em.”

“I don’t have any at home, either.”

“If you did, you wouldn’t sell ’em,” he said.

There was no fourth bookstore. I had already spent the morning carrying books in and out of three stores on a very hot day. For this I got $54 minus $8 for on-street parking. This was enough to fill my gas tank. Since the car is fuel efficient and I don’t use it much anyway, that’s as a month’s worth of gas in exchange for extraneous books, which isn’t such a bad deal.

You could also think of it as three hours of work at about $15 an hour. Or you could think of it as a waste of time.

I took the other two boxes of books home, planning to put them out for the neighbours. As it happened, someone was doing some work in my house. Offered first dibs of the books, she took all of them, having a reading family and a church bazaar that could use the rest.

That leaves somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 books in the house. I told my son that if we’re struck by lightning tomorrow, I’m leaving him a job and a half. He gave me a faintly sick smile, but rallied and said, “Well, you need them.”

Yet maybe his eventual job just got easier. A couple of days ago, a friend posted a link to a business that says they’ll pick up your books for free, donating some to children’s libraries and others to prisons, and presumably re-selling the bulk.

Since it’s time to clean out my husband’s office at work (which I’m not going to think about right now) I’ll be giving them a call.