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Posts Tagged ‘Old Books’

Books in BoxesAll my life I have been a bibliophile. When I was a teenager, leaving home, I had several boxes of books that I hauled with me and kept in boxes, because where I lived there was not enough shelf room to put them all. As I got older and had a family, I would from time to time purge some of the older books in yard sales. But mostly I added my new books to boxes in the garage. One day I’d have a house with a “library” where I could display my books. So I kept them.

In the last five years I have resorted to buying only Kindle books. Even when I wanted to re-read an old book I knew I have somewhere in the boxes, I have re-bought the book in the Kindle format. I didn’t feel like rummaging through boxes to find it, and I prefer the consistent font, size and form factor that all my books now have. I don’t like holding hardcopy books anymore.

That was the moment of revelation for me. I have these heavy objects in boxes that I no longer have any use for. Even if I had a house large enough for a library, I no longer see the point of displaying decades-old relics. A few years ago I decided to sell them. I created an Amazon seller account and listed about 50 books, and a few of them actually sold. I found, however, that after I purchased padded envelopes and labels, and I paid for the shipping with the U.S. Postal Service, and Amazon took its cut, I didn’t make any money. And for those books where there are already a dozen other listings for $0.01, plus $3.99 for shipping, it actually cost me money to “sell” those books, because the Amazon cut and the shipping didn’t leave enough room for the packing materials. That was not even counting my time to take and fulfill the order, package the book, and take it to the post office (to get the lowest rate).

There are some companies that buy used books in bulk. One of them even has a mobile app that allows you to scan the ISBN number and gives you an immediate offer. I downloaded the app and scanned a random ten books on my self and found that they didn’t even want to buy a single one of them.

I also found that nobody wants donated books when I googled the subject. Libraries, used book stores, even Goodwill, routinely throw books into recycle bins because they have no place to put them. Here is a blog post with many comments attesting to that reality. Nobody wants my old books, even though every one of them had enough meaning and value for me at one time in my life to pay out retail dollars to buy them.

I will keep the coffee table books, art books I enjoy, and reference works that have some value, and make sure I get the volume down to no more than two boxes. The rest will go into the paper recycle bin every week, until they are gone.

Good-bye, old life-long friends, good-bye!

 

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I can’t read Moby Dick!

When I saw that there was going to be a movie about Moby Dick, I remembered the old book that has been in one of the boxes in the garage for 40 years. I found the book.

Moby Dick

I opened the cover and I found a dedication from one of my best friends in high school. It turns out, he had given me the book as a Christmas present on Christmas Day 1976, the first time we saw each other after graduating a year and a half before. I had forgotten that this dedication existed.

Dedication to Moby Dick

I redacted his name for his privacy. There was a book mark in page 145, but I remembered nothing, so I thought I’d better start from the beginning.

The pages were yellowed, and the print too small for my now old eyes, so I did what I often do these days with old books: I bought it again on my Kindle. Then I started reading.

I worked at it. And worked at it. I continued on to page 204 out of 549 or 38%, when I finally stopped. Reading Moby Dick is hard work, and I didn’t enjoy the story, or the writing style. That happens to me a lot. See my comments about Ulysses, here, here and here. I am now adding Moby Dick to this illustrious list.

There are far too many books yet to read, and there is so much more sand now in the bottom part of the hourglass of my life compared to what’s left in the top, so the hours are getting more valuable with every page I turn.

I love the physical book that is called Moby Dick; it is a trusted friend that has been with me a lifetime. I cherish the friendship of the one who gave it to me on Christmas Day 1976. I will always keep the hardcopy, so one day, my son might want to read it.

I remain honored to be compared to Queequeg, in the classic that is Moby Dick.

And here I stop.

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