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I have about 300 books I need to sell or donate by the 26th.
February 16, 2009 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I have about 300 books I need to sell or donate by the 26th. NYC-centric details inside.

Okay, I'm moving from a huge apartment to a tiny one. Among the tons of things I need to sell or give away are the last remainders of my once-massive book collection. I'm currently in Harlem, and The Strand is far away as heck; I figure I could take a duffel bag filled with books to work and then there every day, but that seems insane.

I do not have a car or a Zipcar membership.

The dream scenario would be for a truck to pull up, give me some nominal payment for the books (I'm realistic about the likely small figure, having sold books before), and then be done with it. Is there any chance of anything like this happening? What the hell should I do?
posted by Optimus Chyme to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about Amazon? If you set a lowish price for your books (in comparison to other listings of books in similar condition) they should sell pretty rapidly. You could then package them at home and have UPS/FedEx/USPS pick them up.

Granted this isn't the easiest but it would maximize your dollars.

Otherwise, you can hire trucks/vans from Craigslist who might drive you and a bunch of suitcases/boxes full of books to The Strand. The type of guys that'll drive you to/from IKEA, etc.
posted by jckll at 2:43 PM on February 16, 2009


Just in case you're selling your books as a last resort: I own over 1K books and live in a room that's small even by Brooklyn standards. I've just learned to make books into furniture. Throwing a table cloth over a compact stack of 250 books: nightstand! I also invest in wall shelves, so if you've got any space above your head that you don't need, bang in a couple of Ikea shelves and suddenly all the novels taking up prime real estate in the corner are out of the way.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:06 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can get to Harlem! (But I need a truck. And more shelves.)
posted by rokusan at 3:06 PM on February 16, 2009


Yes, an entire wall of books -- actually floor to ceiling -- looks great and is lovely insulation for winter too!
posted by rokusan at 3:08 PM on February 16, 2009


Rokusan, I have pretty good taste: if you're interested in good books cheap I can send you a catalog of pics.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:09 PM on February 16, 2009


If you don't care about getting any cash for your books, Housing Works will pick 'em up for you. And the money goes to a good cause, of course.
posted by Bromius at 3:14 PM on February 16, 2009


Bromius, that link goes to the HousingWorks furniture/clothing donation page. This goes to the bookstore donation page.

Optimus Chyme, they'll pick up "large donations" (not sure if 300 books qualifies but worth emailing to find out) and they also give names of shippers that will pick up (no idea what their fees are).
posted by dogrose at 3:24 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would you be willing to invite MeFites over for a morning to stand on your curb and go through them? I'm sure you'd get a lot of takers, even if you charged money. I might be able to bring a friend with a car and a serious obsession.
posted by nasreddin at 3:27 PM on February 16, 2009


a stack of 250 books is gonna be bigger than a nightstand, unless the books are very small and then it's going to be unstable... (thinking around 50 books to 4 feet, though of course thickness varies - that's an average of almost an inch per book, what i get for looking at classics instead of the poetry section... )

I built a bookshelf on one wall that only comes out about 7 inches (it's about 8x6 ft or so) that looks nice and takes away storage trouble, but I assume part of this is a decision to just not collect books in hard copy anymore, so you don't have to carry them around forever - ?

I'd put up something on craig's list & on posters around your building/ general area, with some titles or general deals (5 for $5 kinda thing) and then have an open house book sale on one afternoon after you get some interest. You won't get rid of everything that way, but you should be able to slim down somewhat...
posted by mdn at 3:30 PM on February 16, 2009


a stack of 250 books is gonna be bigger than a nightstand, unless the books are very small and then it's going to be unstable...

I'm assuming she means compact stack, i.e., library-style shelf. Not literal stack.
posted by nasreddin at 3:31 PM on February 16, 2009


If you do go the craigslist route, would posting the listing here constitute a self-link? Because, yeah, I'd be happy to take a few off your hands if chipping away at the pile is acceptable. Harlem's a piece of cake for me.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:33 PM on February 16, 2009


(Although I'm not sure how you'd get the electronic mechanism to work! Or is it a chunk of an old analog system, or something?)
posted by nasreddin at 3:34 PM on February 16, 2009


Stacked books work as a stable nightstand if you saved all your hefty Norton Anthologies from college. A nightstand constructed of slim poetry volumes would be shit, but a cube of hardback textbooks (plus some latter-day Pynchon novels) is solid unless someone deliberately tries to knock it over. Three Nortons long x three Nortons wide x ten Pynchons high.

Great, now I'm taking time off from studying to take a decent picture of my bookstand.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming she means compact stack, i.e., library-style shelf. Not literal stack.

oh. i don't know what that is (and googling just showed me office furniture...) but sorry for making assumptions :)
posted by mdn at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2009


oh. i don't know what that is (and googling just showed me office furniture...) but sorry for making assumptions :)

Naw, it look like I'm the one that's salty. I'm impressed; I only have one Norton, and it's a compact one.
posted by nasreddin at 3:55 PM on February 16, 2009


Would you be willing to invite MeFites over for a morning to stand on your curb and go through them?

I think this is a great idea. I could probably personally cart away 20 or so. We could all bring beer and drink while we tear through your worldly possessions like jackals.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 4:12 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I work at Book Culture on West 125th and we buy back books all the time. Recently, some of the employees took a truck up to some guy's estate and hauled away a ton of books. If you would like, I can ask if they would be willing to pick up your books for you.
posted by amicamentis at 4:59 PM on February 16, 2009


And by "West 125th" I mean "West 112th". Jeez.
posted by amicamentis at 5:04 PM on February 16, 2009


Thanks, guys - I will consolidate this info and let you know if I decide to do the mini-meetup or what.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:35 PM on February 16, 2009


Delicious Monster's Library (mac only) ---Scan your book barcodes in using the built in camera (or laser scanner) and sell automatically on Amazon. Awesome. $40. I was able to scan in ~300 books in about half an hour.
posted by acro at 6:14 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you just want to be rid of them and can't find a convenient way to sell them, some guy posts ads in my laundry room saying he will come take your books away. I could go look him up, if you want.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:34 PM on February 16, 2009


Not to take good books away from book-hungry Mefites, but have you tried plugging some of the ISBNs into AbeBooks? I had about 300 books that I considered near-junk (textbooks from early 1990s, out-of-date computer books, heavily worn classics, some contemporary fiction), plugged in the ISBNs and ended up being able to sell back about 40 of them, yielding about $80. It's not really hard work at all - there is no "buyer," so you don't have to open an auction account or anything, just plug in the ISBNs, get your quote, package up the books, then use AbeBook's free mailing label to send the books to them. (FedEx might even pick the package up from your apartment, don't see why not.) You don't have to give them a credit card number or even register, just your name and address where you want your check. Took me about an hour total, which seemed worth it because any disposal method would pretty much require boxing the books up and hefting them away anyway.

This will still leave you with a whole bunch of books to give away to your 1K closest friends...
posted by dreamphone at 7:14 PM on February 16, 2009


Check your email, sir...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:38 AM on February 17, 2009


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