Decluttering Books

Decluttering a library is …..  Nasty.

I’m an academic.  I’m married to an academic.  Who was married to a school teacher…..

Recently, my husband ran an errand to the hospital.  While waiting, I noticed a cart full of 50-cent used quick reads.

“Yes,” explained the shopkeeper, “Folks coming in for outpatient procedures don’t realize how long they’ll be waiting.  The book rack raises money that we use for supplemental equipment the doctors need….”

Weren’t we just speaking about turning clutter into blessings!!!!

With my husband’s help, three boxes of mysteries and romances aroused themselves from deep storage and drove across town.

Before I retired I would leave stacks of battered science fiction, like mewing kittens, in the computer science students’ study lounge.  Maybe it was the students or maybe the housekeeping staff took them in…

Textbooks and self-help books with private notes, explanations of exercises, handwritten charts displaying various kinds of progress, doodles scrawled in margins, are as sacred, or useless, as old diaries.  Except for a very few keepsakes I discard them securely via shredder or dump.

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have access to used book stores that will offer credit for some used books.  Some libraries will cheerfully accept your discards but others won’t and some will only take them at certain times.

In general, old editions of undergraduate textbooks are unwanted there.  But old texts are amenable to the superfluous kitten technique.  I left mine in a heap marked “free” and in no time graduating education majors snatched them up.  Just in case.  Students.  Wonderful consumers of free stuff.  Never forget their voracious capacities!

But my favorite discovery was two possible book decluttering options available through Amazon.

On the one hand anyone may set up as a vendor and use the unwanted books as the initial stock.  I have friends who do vend through Amazon for extra cash.  There are comprehensive guidelines available on Amazon’s website and loads of material and stories in various blogs about how to do this well.

On the other hand, if Amazon believes any of your books can be resold, they will offer to take them as trade-ins for a gift card credit.  They provide a postage paid UPS label and give a time window for sending the books in.  Once Amazon has approved the books you’ve sent, they tack the credit onto your account.

Here’s how you begin.

  • Sign in to our Amazon page and click on “My Account.”
  • From the righthand panel select “Your trade-in account.”
  • From the top righthand panel select “Submit your trade-ins.”
  • There is a button marked “Search for items to trade in.” Type in the ISBN of the first item you want to submit.
  • From here, you enter a conversation with the database about your situation.

You are likely to be disappointed about the absolutely wonderful books Amazon won’t accept; or by the pittance of the credit they offer for the ones they do; or frustrated by having to ask about each item at a time.  But I was delighted to remove boxes and boxes of books from my house at no cost to myself for a bit of credit which I used later for birthday presents.

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Author: American Declutterer

I've had three careers, moved among thirteen states, and cleared four houses after loved ones moved on. Sometimes you just have to look at all the stuff and laugh. Then get back to discarding.

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