Too Much Stuff: buying multiple copies of books

The trouble with having too much stuff is that it makes it hard to find things.  For me, sometimes I need something: I know I have it, but I can’t find it. I need it NOW so I end up buying another, which means I have even MORE stuff.

Cover of 1975 paperback edition of Venus on the Half Shell by "Kilgore Trout"

Cover of 1975 paperback edition of Venus on the Half Shell by “Kilgore Trout”

Bob must have been this way too.  I’m sorting another box of books from the basement and just found his third copy of Venus on the Half Shell by Kilgore Trout. I sold the first one (1975 edition) last year on Amazon.com. Bob and I were both Kurt Vonnegut fans. Kilgore Trout was one of Vonnegut’s fictional characters — a sci-fi writer, who wrote Venus on the Half Shell, of course– who figured in several novels.  Back when Venus was published in the real world, I assumed it was a joke novel written by Vonnegut. But when I found Bob’s first copy and researched it, I saw it was by Philip Jose Farmer. I love sorting books; I always learn something.

I’ve found multiple copies of other books too. Ironically, there have been at least three copies of Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. Bob loved Terry Pratchett novels, and ended up with duplicates of several of those. In the early days after his death, I filled a carefully tended shelf with Pratchett novels, thinking that when I retired I’d read them in honor of Bob. Eventually reality set in, and I’ve learned I can’t keep everything, let alone read everything. I traded most of them on paperbackswap.com, where they’re much in demand.

Today I listed 15 books for sale on Amazon, sorted out several more to bundle for Ebay listings, and have a good-sized box for library donations.  On Amazon, many used books are listed for months before they sell, so the sooner I get through sorting them, the closer I’ll be to getting the books to their new homes.

A positive note, one book I listed this week –a 1977 paperback now out of print– sold the next day for $14.50. That motivated me to get out this latest box and have at it. Plus, sorting books is always a treat.

Have you ever bought something you knew you already had, but couldn’t find? Or, found you have multiple copies of a book?

“We are sharers, not owners. We are not prosperous. None of us is rich. None of us is powerful. If it is Anarres you want, if it is the future you seek, then I tell you that you must come to it with empty hands. You must come to it alone, and naked, as the child comes into the world, into his future, without any past, without any property, wholly dependent on other people for his life. You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself.”  Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

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Book Donations

After a round of clutter cleanup, I’m off to the library to deliver some book and magazine donations. Only 66 magazines and 5 books today, plus a bag of batteries for the library’s recycle box. A quick total of last year’s donations, down from previous years of sorting but still respectable: 225 hardback books, 240 paperbacks, 269 magazines, plus a couple of boxes of books I gave to friends.

I haven’t sorted books for a while, but when I do, I sell, swap, or donate them.

drawer for swap IMG_2490

A drawer full of books saved for swapping.

Swap-wise, my wish-list books come slowly, as many are for out of print books not often available.  Swapping isn’t so good for people who want to get rid of things, though, since we get something in return.  Still, it has advantages: I know the books I send out are going to someone who wants them (as opposed to being leftovers at the thrift store and ending up in the landfill) and it’s nice to sometimes get something in return. I use paperbackswap.com, but there are several other sites, not just for books but for CDs, and DVDs. A quick google search even brings up sites to swap VHS movies.

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Mostly sci-fi for the coffee shop too — this is a geek household.

All this reminds me that a local coffee shop has a shelf of paperbacks for customers to read and take, and I still have a bag of books I sorted out to donate to them. I guess I’ll be stopping for coffee on the way home.

Where to Donate Neckties: Ties That Matter

* UPDATE, April 2015*  — I just found out that Ties That Matter no longer takes donations.

Catching up on the daily newspaper I see an article about Ties That Matter, a program that collects neckties for Haitian women to use to make and sell dolls and other products from donated neckties. I know I said I wouldn’t work on cleaning out the closets yet, but this is too good to pass up.

Guys with Ties: Bob (center) and me, with his friend Dave (left), at Tiffany’s Attic in the 1980’s.

Bob had dozens – no, hundreds – of beautiful ties, most of them still in my closet. We traveled a lot when we worked for the airlines, and he often bought ties on trips. When we moved into the house I put in closet organizers with a built-in tie rack for him. It’s still there, overflowing, all from the days before business casual. After his death I went through the boxes in his storage room and found dozens more ties. I donated some along with his suits, then, entranced by the colors and patterns, lured by fabric of memory as much as by silk from Italy and wool from England and Scotland, I decided to keep them awhile. Nobody wears ties to work these days, I thought, so why donate them to a thrift store where no one would buy them. I imagined making a wall quilt, after I retired of course. I’d juxtapose the glowing burgundies and blues, paisleys and stripes, and it would be a work of art.
But I don’t see any activity toward making that quilt.

I sort through, unable to resist laying out the ties by pattern… stripes, solids, paisley. I’m also unable to resist keeping just a few. There’s one I bought for him in Rome – he thanked me, but privately thought it was too narrow, so never wore it. There are some skinny 1960’s Rat-Pack ties, and a couple of wild wide ones from even earlier. I experience temptation. There’s that Etsy vintage account I’ve been meaning to open, could I possible sell a few?

Ties — I snap a few photos to remember them by.

ties IMG_2445

On the wilder side.

ties IMG_2446

These make me wonder why men quit wearing ties.

All stripes.

All stripes.

Ties That Matter looks like a wonderful place for me to donate Bob’s ties to a good cause.