What to do with my large book collection
June 5, 2019 1:41 PM   Subscribe

After 35 years , I am leaving the USA next month, and I don't know what to do with my extensive book collection. I am getting rid of ALL my belogings to start a fresh beginning in Denmark, and letting go of my books is the only thing that I have a hard time with.

There are thousands of books, including 40 or 50 boxes of old and rare BOOKS IN HERBREW. I tried to sell them here in Southern California, but stores wouldn't even drive over to pick them up.

There are hundreds of first editions and just old Hebrew books that might be valuable to the right collector: Early translations of Knut Hansun, 'Also sprach Zarathustra' and many other authors from the very early 1900's and some books that are even older. There are some books there that are worth real 'shekels'.

There are also many books in English, Danish, hundreds of old dictionaries, hundreds of old cook books, art, literature, philosophy, religion, etc.

At this point I will sell them for any nominal price, give them away or donate them to anybody who'll cherish it enough to pay for the shipment.

If nobody steps up, I will probably have to order a dumpster and trash the whole lot. It breaks my heart just to think about it.

Can you think of anybody who may want to pick them up?
posted by growabrain to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
did you call estate book buying companies? For example?
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:47 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

A 'friends of the library' group (that's what it's called where I am) they sell books and the money goes to the library.

A Jewish lit group? Any nearby college?

Hmm... I think you could even have a 'free sale' or a 'pay what you want' sale at a park/lawn/garage.

Calling around for the right place; high school cooking class? Retirement community? Etc...

Good luck! Happy moving and reduced possessions new start :)
posted by PistachioRoux at 2:06 PM on June 5, 2019

For the ones with barcodes and ISBNs, it might be worth running the list of ISBNs through the Powell's book buying page. They pay for UPS ground shipping.
posted by soelo at 2:29 PM on June 5, 2019

If you have time, you can drop them off in various Little Free Libraries around your area, too.
posted by soelo at 2:30 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Some universities might be interested or know who would be, maybe language or history departments, in the Danish and Hebrew books.
posted by Botanizer at 2:46 PM on June 5, 2019

Best answer: Check university libraries, especially at schools with serious Jewish Studies/Israel Studies/Hebrew Literature programs. A university with the right program might be willing to pay you to ship them, and other university libraries or programs might know where to refer you. Possibly NAPH or the AJL would be willing to refer you.

Is some part of the contents of potential relevance to Jewish history museums? Local synagogues or their communities? Have you tried spreading the word in the socal Israeli community? (Are there any Jewish old age homes?)

Some very cursory googling turned up JewishUsedBooks.com. (And it's a bit of a long shot, but it's not impossible that some secondhand bookstores in Israel might be interested in some of the books for the cost of shipping, if some of them are actually valuable.)

And you never know - maybe there's a bulk buyer out there on ebay.
posted by trig at 3:00 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Books from the 1900s aren’t particularly hard to find. You could just drop them off at one of the Council Thrift Stores and let them worry about storing, sorting, sellling.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:47 PM on June 5, 2019

Best answer: +1 to finding a local "friends of the library" nonprofit, whose job is exactly to take (often large) book donations and resell them for the benefit of the local public library. In my town, they will even check going prices and sell higher-value books on Amazon, but the majority just do periodic public book sales.
posted by serelliya at 4:49 PM on June 5, 2019

Best answer: Amazing Books here in Pittsburgh would be a possibility. The owner is Orthodox, and books in Hebrew are one of their specialties, especially for their Squirrel Hill location.
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:52 PM on June 5, 2019

Best answer: Specialist archives also collect relevant published works. See UCLA. If nothing else, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Good luck - and mazel tov!
posted by mollymillions at 6:48 PM on June 5, 2019

Here is the SoCal book sale listing I use. I don't know if they can accommodate donations of this size-- best to just call/email and ask.
posted by acidic at 11:01 PM on June 5, 2019

I was invited to home whose occupants were going into assisted living. The family sent out several waves of open invitations.

The first group were known colleagues and friends who shared their interests and first dibs on the classic books and classical musical collection.

Second group was a general shout out to other friends and neighbors who might be interested.

Third wave was a one time only, three hour open house that was posted on Facebook pages free cycle and buy nothing groups. That pretty much finished off a lot of books.

Whatever wasn't taken was put in Goodwill, put out on the curb or given to the library.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 5:43 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I often pick up obscure / academic books that have been sold by public libraries (either books that have been removed from circulation or donated "friends of library" books) via Better World Books. They have a lot of donation boxes that can take up to 800 books, but It doesn't look like they have any California drop boxes.
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2019

Where do you live? People may have local suggestions. I might try synagogues.
posted by xammerboy at 9:39 PM on June 6, 2019

Response by poster: Following the recommendations here, I contacted the leads, and found a Jewish Center in La Jolla interested in the collection.

They just came to me house with a big van, and picked up the whole thing, so I am going to mark this thread as solved.

Thank you to all.
posted by growabrain at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

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