January 19, 2008

Cleaning Off My Bookshelf

I have four (3-shelf) bookshelves in my home office that are on the verge of overflowing with books. There is an entire bookshelf just for books that I have not read yet, but need to. Apparently I'm something of a book nut. I hadn't really noticed it myself, though. I figured it was just something that came with the job.

I've been meaning to clean out old books for a while now, but my wife recently mandated that I must get rid of a bunch of old ones before I can add any new ones. I new she was serious but I thought she was going to flip out when I came back from CodeMash with a copy of Micros ISV: From Vision to Reality by Bob Walsh.

Last weekend I made a first pass, pruning about 30 books. The majority of them are old MCSE certification study guides, Access and Excel developer books, some beginner ASP.NET books, and various books that I have picked up along the way that lie outside of my normal areas of interest, like some PHP and MySQL books.

Most of these books have been read once and shelved and some have never been read. There are a couple that are still in the original shrink-wrap. Rather than throw them all out I decided to list them as used books on Amazon (thanks to Dustin Campbell for seeding the idea):  

My books for sale on Amazon

There are a couple of reasons I decided to take on the overhead of adding the listings and dealing with the sales and shipping:

  • It may not actually end up being worth my time to do so, but if I end up profiting $5.00 from the sale of a book then it's $5 I wouldn't have if I had thrown it out.
  • Recycling - in the humanitarian sense. Someone out there may really need to know some hidden intricacy of NT 4.0 Workstation. The books are no longer in print and Amazon doesn't carry them. They might be ecstatic to find my old used copy.
  • Recycling - in the being green sense. If someone buys one of my used books then that will be one less book (for now) sitting in the landfill or being burned in the incinerator.
  • My wife may realize that all these old books aren't "useless" and even though they might not be the "investment" I claim them to be they are worth something.

Depending on the outcome and the overall experience I will probably take another pass and list another 20-30 books in the coming weeks. So far in the 2 days since I listed them I have sold 2 books: a SQL Bible and Professional Development with Excel. So far so good.

I have already been able to clear off two (of the 12 available) shelves from my bookcases. I was able to shelve all of the books that were sitting in the floor onto one of them. The other now houses my never-ending stack of bills, some envelopes and stamps and some other office supplies. If I keep it up I might even be able to clean off my desk at some point in the near future. There's no point in kidding myself; that will never happen. But at least I'll have free space for more new books!

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  1.  avatar Jayme Davis says:

    It's amazing how much quicker/easier selling anything on Amazon is vs the eBay route. If you have any old database theory type books, you will be pleasantly surprised at their resale :)

    Jayme

  2.  avatar says:

    Thanks for the tip, Jayme. I still have a couple of database textbooks left over from college. Guess they're going up next!

  3.  avatar Joe Wirtley says:

    So how much commission will you charge to add my books to your collection?  I'm interested in seeing how this goes for you, I've thought about doing the same thing, but haven't made the leap yet.

    And on another note, I've bought a lot of "previously owned" books on Amazon and saved a ton of money.  

    And lastly, you should tell your wife that you're a lightweight when it comes to books; I have them everywhere in my house...

  4.  avatar says:

    Joe, my commission = it depends on how many books you have. :)

    I'll fill you in on the results thus far at the Dayton .NET group tomorrow evening.

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