Selling Used Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Future

In the future I will have fewer books. But meanwhile, isn’t there always time for books?

Time enough for books...

Time titles, and time enough for books, or werewolves –see volume 4th from the left.  These are not on the give-away list (yet).

I’ve been selling books on Amazon since 2012, but took stock last week and saw I had three bookcases full of books still waiting for their new homes. Now that I’ve unpacked the last box of books from the basement, I took a hard look at what I had listed on Amazon.

In some cases, as time passed, other sellers listed copies of books for much less than I had, so prices had fallen below my minimum. The time had come to downsize my books for sale.

  • The project — close the listings and donate books that are least likely to sell.
  • The goal — measure my progress by freeing up a bookshelf.

The result ? Here’s the “Fiction” case, after consolidation and two trips to the library with donations…

Empty book case

Empty book case!

Now that I have an empty bookshelf I have to hurry up and get it out of the house, so there’s no temptation to fill it up again. Next project: investigate consignment stores.

I’m still selling books, just with a lower inventory than before. Meanwhile, I’ve been so busy that my post on the category “Future” didn’t get written until it was “Past”…

I could never have imagined a future in which I’d have too many books — what about you?


Amsterdam Birds, Selling Used Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

My friend Donna’s planning a trip to Amsterdam, and I’m getting nostalgic about the trip Sam and I took last fall. On a morning walk to the Oude Kerk, the oldest building in Amsterdam, we found lots of monochromatic images.

Misericord Owl - Amsterdam Oude Kerk

Misericord Owl – Amsterdam Oude Kerk

Oude Kerk interior - Amsterdam

Oude Kerk interior — choir stalls on the right.

I found lots of birds that day (OK, I’m always collecting pictures of chickens). Here’s a handsome tombstone.

Oude Kerk tombstone

Amsterdam gull - across the street from Our Lord in the Attic

One more bird – across the street from Our Lord in the Attic.

Meanwhile, here on the homefront, I haven’t been wasting my time. Just a couple of weeks ago, Bob’s vintage 1909 Harvard Classics “Five Foot Shelf of Books” went to a happy home courtesy of eBay, as did the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica set I sold earlier in the summer.

Harvard Classics Five Foot Shelf of Books

Even the Harvard Classics are monochromatic.

My Amazon book sales have been slow, so those two sales helped a lot on the clearing out. I’ve never thought of books as “by the pound” but mailing those out, I realized that, combined, they totaled over 150 pounds of books.  As of today, I sorted out another box full and loaded them up to donate to the library tomorrow morning. I’m so sticky fingered about books that I always find it hard to let them go.

I have to buckle down now, though. On that library trip tomorrow I’ll be picking up a copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’ll see if that speeds up my basement cleaning project.

Wish me luck?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic

Saving Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

It’s a long train ride up to the ‘top’ of Manhattan but we finally made it to the Cloisters last November. Here’s a subject dear to my heart. No — not burning books, my subject is saving them!

Cloisters: Allegorical Scene with Book Burning, Netherlandish, ca 1520-1530

Stained glass at the Cloisters: Allegorical Scene with Book Burning, Netherlandish — ‘Farenheit 451’ ca 1520-1530

I prefer to think this character is lifting that book away from the fire. Saving books is what I like to think I’m doing when I list our used books for sale online, or take time to find the right homes to donate them to. I can’t stand to think of books getting thrown away or recycled.  Letting them go to the landfill would be a modern version of book-burning. (and btw, can anyone figure out the words in the banderole above the fire? I should have done that when I was there in person)

Here are a few recent triumphs from book-selling:

  • Elements of Mathematics, General Topology, Part 1.  Part 2 sold a couple of weeks later, to a different buyer. Looking back, I see I listed these books for sale in April and September 2013. Selling used books is not for the impatient.
  • Recreational Mathematics magazine, December 1961 (“devoted to the lighter side of mathematics”). The August 1961 issue sold a couple of years ago.  Here’s a quote.

There was a magician named Pratt,

Who hid ninety birds in his hat.

Exactly two-thirds

Of a third of those birds

Were robins –  how many was that?

  • Rick Steves’ Pocket Amsterdam and National Geographic Walking Amsterdam walked Amsterdam with us on our trip last fall, then sold on Amazon when we got home.

But back to the rule of thirds: in composition, it calls for placing the subject off-center, aligned, ideally, along vertical or horizontal lines of a grid that divides the image into nine equal parts.  “Power points” are at the intersections of these lines. If I’d paid better attention to the rule of thirds, the faces in my photos would be at power points.  As it was, I just wanted to frame the glass image with a view of the cloistered garden outside.

Here’s one more image… a medieval Wild Man, covered in hair (first cousin to the Green Man?). The Wild Man is such a favorite subject of mine that I won’t say any more about him here; I’ll save him for another post.

Wild Man supporting a Heraldic Shield,  the Cloisters, Netherlandish, 1510-1530

Wild Man supporting a Heraldic Shield, the Met Museum Cloisters, Netherlandish, 1510-1530

How about it – are you a fan of the Wild Man yet?

More about the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum

More about the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

My Vintage Miss Piggy Fantasy Calendar, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

I’d forgotten I was a Miss Piggy fan in my former life (who, moi?). I must have expressed myself at the office, and after that, people brought me Miss Piggy gifts for my desk and bulletin board. I found this 1981 calendar when I cleared some boxes out of the basement last summer. Here’s the glamor-pig on a fantasy Harper’s Bazaar cover…

Piggy Harper's Bazaar Cover

See the little Kermits on her scarf?

The theme here is a magazine cover for each month. Since I’m a sci-fi fan, of course I like this Omni cover. Omni ceased publication in 1998… hmm, I’ve found several vintage magazines so far, maybe I’ll find a real Omni magazine in one of my other boxes.

Miss Piggy OMNI cover

Look at the lower right — is that a planet or a froggy eyeball?

I was in danger of tossing this calendar into the recycling bin when I thought:  “Oh what the heck”, and listed it on Amazon. That was a few months ago. Today, it sold!  I sent it off to its new home, still amazed that someone wanted it, and grateful to the 21st Century that there’s such a simple way to share it.

And by the way, that anti-gravity miracle weight-loss method sounds interesting, yes?

Here’s Miss Piggy on a Life cover…

Miss Piggy Life Magazine cover

(Detail) Miss Piggy with her froggy fans…

Two vintage Life magazines with stamp articles on the covers

It’s time to admit I did find some “real” Life magazines, so why not Omni? I’m pretty sure these belonged to Bob’s father, who was a stamp collector.

Now back to Miss Piggy… Wouldn’t it be fun to have a job making up stuff like this? Here’s a detail of Christmas a la the Saturday Evening Post.

Miss Piggy Saturday Evening Post cover

Do you see the Frog in this picture?

Miss Piggy Christmas Tree Angel

A closer look: Miss Piggy gets to be her own Christmas Tree angel.

 Now I’m wondering if Miss Piggy was the Hello Kitty of yester-year. What do you think?

For more on the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

In case you were never a fan: Miss Piggy Muppet Wiki

Oh dear, she has a Facebook page

And here is some famous Miss Piggy wisdom. Take that Hello Kitty.

Selling Used Books on Amazon, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

I’ve been selling used books on for just over two years now. I still have a few boxes of Bob’s books to go through, so a look “inside” one of the remaining boxes seemed like a good challenge to get me started sorting books again.

Inside a box of books that was inside my basement.

What’s inside the box? Here’s the top layer.

 I brought the first armload of books upstairs on Friday night. Here’s one…sHistory of Pi by Petr Beckmann

Synchronicity: It was Saturday morning before I actually looked at the books I’d brought up, and saw I’d missed discovering History of Pi on Pi-Day (3/14) by just a few hours.

The most modest author bio award goes to Don Lancaster for The Incredible Secret Money Machine. 

Incredible Secret Money Machine

Back cover of The Incredible Secret Money Machine

Plus, any idea related to Kurt Vonnegut’s books (granfalloons!) must be worth reading. I listed this one for sale but maybe I should read it first.

When unpacking Bob’s books I’m always amazed at the breadth of his interests. I admit I’ll be more than a little sad to finish cleaning out this particular corner of the basement. The books are the only window left into that ever-active mind, and though I know I need to disperse these things, I do it with a tinge of regret. From Droodles to the Decameron to The Theory of Parsing, Translation, and Compiling in this box alone, I can’t imagine that he ever got bored. I see now that in its own way, sorting through his books is one more illustration of going inside.

The Snake, by John Crompton

The Snake

Tally from this box:  19 listed for sale on, 20 to donate, and 1 to keep (OK maybe for just a little while).

Which one am I keeping?  The Snake seems like a practical choice for a woman with a yard full of ground-covers, (and it is St. Patrick’s Day today) but I’m feeling sticky-fingered about some of the others too, so I may change my mind.

Here’s a visual list of books I’ll give to friends or donate.

Visual List of books to Donate

Of those books I listed for sale this weekend, one sold this morning: Object Oriented Programming, an Evolutionary Approach, by Brad J Cox and Andrew J Novobilski.  More sychronicity: the matryoshka dolls on the cover make another nice illustration of “inside”.

Russian Nested Dolls, Illustrating "Inside" - Object Oriented Programming.

Illustrating “Inside” – Object Oriented Programming.

I got carried away and sorted two more boxes after finishing this one. They contained the entire set of Harvard Classics: Five Foot Shelf of Books. That’s a set of 51 books. I’ll have to puzzle over what’s best to do with those.  Do you have any suggestions?  (a little quiet reading while I’m thinking about it is always a possibility)

To see more of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside, click here.

Book Marks and Cover Illustrations: Still Selling Used Books on Amazon

bookmarks IMG_4018Bookmarks: they’re something I hadn’t thought of finding when I started going through Bob’s books. I guess I’ve always imagined that, unlike me, he finished everything he started, or maybe with his photographic memory he magically remembered what page he was on. Some of the markers I’ve found are common — advertisements, library inserts — and some are handwritten lists, a poignant reminder of our mortality that always stops me short, reminding me that the real reason I’m doing all this is that he’s not here to do it list IMG_4017

Some markers tell me what he was doing at the time. Here are some travel related ones that make it obvious. Trans World Airlines is gone now too, so these days we refer to this as “TWA memorabilia.”

TWA memorabilia: boarding pass and seat-occupied card.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a “seat occupied” card.

Anybody remember mimeographed copies? This next one takes me straight back to grade school, when the teacher would hand out copies of something and the first thing we did was smell them.

Mimeographed copy used as a bookmark, "The Law of Trivalence"

Someone should bottle mimeograph-scented perfume for Boomers.

As for the books themselves, here’s the inventive cover illustration of one I sold this week…Walter M. Miller is the author of A Canticle for Leibowitz (still on my for-sale shelf if you’re interested).Best of Walter M Miller IMG_4011I know if I had a new pair of boots, the first thing I’d do is put on my orange evening gown and (clutching my nearly naked boyfriend) go for a ride on a giant flying bug. What, wouldn’t you?

Especially if the bug had rockets on its butt! I wanted to find an attribution for this cover art. There was no listing inside the book, but Google led me to a great new discovery. Forget IMDB, who knew there was an that lists all sorts of details about sci-fi lit? The site tells me: ‘Cover art not credited, but there is a truncated signature (“McA”) on the cover, which is assumed to stand for “Mara McAfee“.’ (b. 1929-d. 1984)  And now that I know, I see she also worked in film and is listed in IMDB too. Let’s appreciate it in detail…Best of Walter Miller detail IMG_4012As usual, I was sorry to let this go, but I have to think about how many books I still have listed and how long it’s going to take to sell them at the rate of 2-4 per week. Still, it’s worth it, even though now I’ll never know the story of the bug ride. I get a thrill every time I sell a book and know it’s going to someone who wants it.

But back to the bookmarks… I still have boxes of Bob’s books to go through, so who knows what I’ll find next. Bookmarks are one more thing we’re losing with the transition to e-readers. Until I make that switch, I’m going to start paying attention to my own bookmarks too. How about you?

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, 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.

books for coffee shop IMG_2494

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.