Archive for the ‘Obsessions’ Category

Bibliomania

June 2, 2011

I has it.  It is defined as an “excessive fondness for acquiring and possessing books.”  I’ve had this condition since childhood.  I suppose it started with book orders.  Remember those?  The onion-skin paper booklets elementary school teachers pass out?  I pored over them and pointed out anything I was remotely interested in to mom, who, bless her soul, always indulged me since it was all for my edification (with the possible exception of a few R.L. Stein books).  The teachers loved it, because the more we ordered, the more credit they got to order.  Before I moved on to 6th grade, my 5th grade teacher actually told me wistfully that I could come back and order from her if I wanted.  But by then I was moving on from The Boxcar Children and Ramona to The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and the Little House books, which weren’t to be found on the pages of the 5th grade book orders.  6th grade was also the year I discovered the Harper Hall trilogy, launching my lifelong love of the Dragonriders of Pern series.

So to sum up, I read.  A lot.  And I buy books.  Waaaaay too many books.  After counting the books on the top shelf of my largest bookcase and doing some quick arithmetic, taking into account the big shelf, the small shelf, the bookcase bed and the bottom of the nightstand (some of which are packed and stacked two deep), plus the three sizeable cardboard boxes at the foot of my bed, I would estimate (conservatively) that I have about 500 books, about 400-450 of which have been read.  I know, I know.  I should get a Kindle.  But I was dragged kicking and screaming into the age of cell phones, iPods and digital cameras.  I eventually gave in to all those technologies, but I’m not ready to give up my books yet.

So Half Price Books is one of my favorite places to wander.  I always find a good deal on something that interests me, and walk away $20-$30 poorer with a sack of books in my hand.  I don’t think I’ve ever left that store without buying.  So it’s a good thing that the nearest location is 1.5 hours away from me.  Otherwise I’d go broke.

But tomorrow I’m meeting a friend in Indy.  We needed to choose a central meeting place close to our ultimate destination, and we finally settled on, you guessed it, Half Price Books.  Because I have a coupon.  I thought about how much I buy there, and then it occurred to me that one can also sell books there.  I don’t think I’ve ever sold a book in my life.  Most of them are precious to me, even if it’s likely I’ll never read them again.  But I got to thinking about how much I spend, and wondering if I could offset this by selling some books.

So I started taking a serious look at my shelves, and I wound up with 32 books I believe I can live without.  Most of them (I’m ashamed to admit) are pre-teen fiction in the form of the Full House series, and a thick stack of Garfield comic collections (though I’m keeping Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side).  I also included three novels I never want to see again, a couple of duplicates which I bought accidentally  (that’s how out of control this habit is), and a very pedantic textbook IUK wouldn’t buy back called The Spectrum of Responsibility.  As cheaply as Half Price Books sells, I doubt they’ll pay much for them, but even if I only got $.50-$1.00 for each of them, that still might be enough to break even.  So I’m going to be brave and get rid of some books.  I may cry!

Update:  Selling books is sooooo not worth it.  It was heartbreaking.  I probably had upwards of $150 invested in those 32 books.  Know what they offered me for them all?  $13.  I ended up selling 31 of them for $12.  I just couldn’t bear to see a beautifully illustrated hardcover edition of Anne of Avonlea go for $1.  I know they’re a dime a dozen; I checked it out on Abebooks last night.  But I couldn’t stand it.  I’m pretty sure it was a gift.  I’d scrawled my name in it at some point in my childhood.  So I pulled that one from the fire.  But I sold the rest.  The lady justified it by saying the Full House books would go directly to clearance or be donated.  But there were at least 10 Garfield collections in that stack, and they were going for $3 in the same store.  There was also a brand-new hardcover novel.  They sell books like that for $7-$10.  Seems like they could’ve done a little better than that.  They must be making a killing.  They’re certainly getting their money’s worth out of me.  I wound up with about $35 worth of merchandise, so I spent just over $20.  Didn’t even come close to breaking even.  Life is so disillusioning.  *sigh*