Purging the Bookshelves

Do you have the inner strength to throw out old books?

I love computer books, and bring home way too many of them. Things were bad enough in the old days, when I had to leave my office and drive to a bookstore, in order to buy books. Then the miracle of online shopping occurred, and now I can browse through the Amazon catalogue any time of night or day. A few mouse clicks, and there's a pile of books headed to my front door.

The shelves in my office are crammed to capacity, and it's time to purge some of the books, or buy new shelves. Since I've run out of wall space, additional shelving isn't really an option, so purge it is.

The Toss Pile

Here are some of the books I'm releasing into the wild today. The internet has changed a bit since I started using it, and I don't use Office 97, Lotus Notes, FrontPage or PageMill these days. Judging by the publication dates, you can see that I don't clear the shelves too often. It's painful!

  • Teach Yourself Web Publishing with Microsoft Office 97; 1997 edition.
  • The Internet Unleashed; 1994 edition.
  • Lotus Notes 4.5 and the Internet; 1997 edition.
  • Adobe PageMill 3 f/x and design; 1998 edition
  • Special Edition Using Microsoft Front Page 2000; 1999 edition

There were several others, as you can see in the photo below. It cleared 18" of shelf space, and reduced the load by about 30 pounds (my non-scientific estimate). Still lots that could be tossed, but this is a start.

The Keep Pile

I'm keeping this one though, because it's an essential office reference guide:

  • The PreHistory of the Far Side; 1989 edition.

What's in Your Toss Pile?

So, I've come clean. What's on your bookshelf that's ready for the toss pile?

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8 Responses

  1. JP says:

    Microsoft Word 2003 Step By Step. Nice book, but very basic. Bought on a lark a few years ago, now it’s just collecting dust. Also have a book about how to use MS Project, it’s called “On Time! On Track! On Target! Managing Your Projects Successfully with Microsoft Project” which is also a “read-once-and-get-rid-of” title.

    Amazon.com has been very helpful in getting rid of old books. It’s much easier to list on Amazon than on ebay (as simple as entering the ISBN), but the fees on Amazon are horrendous. Amazon is great if you want to get rid of a few books, but don’t expect to make any money (and barely break even). The price competition on Amazon is fierce.

    I’ve listed both of the above books on Amazon twice, with no luck. Maybe I’ll just give them away.


  2. Thanks JP, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. ;-)
    I thought about eBay, but the shipping costs for a computer book would be high, so doubt anyone would want them, even if priced at a few cents.

  3. JP says:

    It depends on the size and weight of the book. It’s usually just a few dollars, but Amazon only pays you three for shipping. If it’s a big book, you might end up losing money. That’s why I said you shouldn’t do it if your goal is to make money. But for getting rid of some dead weight, it’s fantastic.

    I usually buy used in the first place, so the loss isn’t so great when I want to sell it. But it depends; for some older books (Outlook 2000 VBA Programmer’s Reference, for example), I prefer a beat-up copy because they usually aren’t that damaged, and since they’re technically “used”, you can get great discounts. It’s really a very striking contrast to see the Amazon price, then the other sellers’ prices for the new or used copies. Seeing the same book at half the usual cost is enough to get me to buy it, even if I wasn’t really that interested in it. Five dollars for a book that normally costs $25 is a great deal (from a buyer’s perspective, of course).

    If you have any books on XML you want to get rid of, I’ll take them off your hands :)

  4. Hey, I have Building Applications with Outlook 2000 Technical Reference! But no XML books that I want to get rid of. ;-)
    Anyway, I’ll check out the Amazon thing before I toss this pile. I’m not looking to make any money, but don’t want to lose any either.

  5. Charles Kelsoe says:

    Bravo – I have gone through several cycles of this (moving helps). I also have the same problem with magazines that I think I may refer to in the future and never do. I need to scan in the articles I want to keep and ditch the rest. I would like to have more books digitally but without the strict digital management so I can move and use them between my 2 or 3 computers.

  6. Thanks Charles! I last moved in 1991, and there are still a few boxes in the basement to unpack. They probably have my MacWorld issues from 1984-89. ;-)
    Maybe I should move again, just to inspire a thorough cleanup.

  7. Isn’t funny how books feel like sacred items that shouldn’t be thrown away?

    I had a Marketing friend tell me once that he always gives away a “Mini-book” as a company gift (instead of crappy key chains and mugs) because people won’t throw them away!

  8. Mike, I blame the public library system for instilling that fear in small children.
    The mini-book sounds like an excellent idea, with your company name and phone number printed on the spine and both covers.

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