Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something new

I'm back into the business of pricing old books once more. A few years back, I volunteered to do this data input for our local Friends of the Library. The Friends subscribe to an online book selling service for the donated books that may be of some value. As the Friends receive donations all of the time and some of those donations really do have value, it's a small but worthwhile enterprise. We average about $1,000 a year in online sales and although it's not much, it's all collected by volunteer labor so it goes directly to helping the local library. Long story short; I did the data entry for about six months max and then it shifted over to my long suffering wife who continued it quite bravely for the past few years. It's really a dreadfully dull business to search out book titles and their possible values, all online of course. Once you have settled on a price you have to describe the book in question, another boring job. Until recently. My wife told me a few weeks ago that she was seeing some expensive books in the boxes that were littering her side of the study. She was pricing some into the $75 dollar range and that is very high for the usual books we see. Our supplier, the man who does the collection, pickup and sorting had told us that he had picked up a large number of books from a local estate and they looked pretty good to him. He was right. Then, a few days ago my wife complained to me that the books were beginning to affect her breathing, a definite job hazard when opening old and musty books. I volunteered to take my old job back since I can't do much of anything else and right away I hit pay dirt, an $80 dollar book followed by some $40's and $60's. Then I picked up a pair of books, volumes 1 and 2 of 'The Outer Shores' by Ed Ricketts and John Steinbeck. Hmmm? The Steinbeck name would give these books some value and they were exceptionally clean looking. So I began my search for value and was quite shocked to see $300 as the price for a similar duo. Single titles from the pair were going for $200. Whoa! A jackpot for the Friends of the Library…if someone buys them. So we will post them online and then put them into a rusty old trailer in the city yard that serves as our storage facility. And wait. In the meantime, before they go, I will read some from this pair and then I've already set aside that $80 dollar book, Modoc War, that I want to read. It's all a benefit for the labor. I get to read expensive books in exchange for typing a few lines of data. Fair enough. And I think I'll get one of those dust masks to wear from now on.


  1. Who would think that pricing books would be hazardous to your health!

  2. It really is...and the older the book, the worse the odor. And dust. I wonder if I could find any old virii alive in the old books?