For weeks I intended to go to Half Price Books, the only used bookstore in town, one of a 120-store Texas-based chain. I wanted to try to sell my Folio Society five-book Dickens set (1985).
The problem was my husband wanted to divvy the Dickens up in our panniers and bike there. I wasn’t enthusiastic about biking with ten or more pounds of hardbacks. And so weeks went by, but I finally persuaded him it was worth a trip in the car (we seldom take the car). We weren’t even sure we would sell the Dickens, because they used to pay a laughable 25 cents per paperback. I had in my mind a lowball price beneath which I would not go.
Many people sell their books at Half Price Books. Stacks and stacks of romances and vampire books were piled on the counter. People wheeled them in on dollies. More kept coming in.
They offered me $10. I declined.
Well, I didn’t expect much, but I did expect more than $2 per book. It’s a set, in excellent condition. At a garage sale I might sell it for $20. On Abebooks the lowest price is $79. I’d rather give it to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale than Half Price Books.
Heavens, I see why people sell them online!
Does anybody sell books online? Do you have good experiences?
1. The Literary Hub recently published the article, “Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump: What Do They Read?” Who has good taste? Who does not? Clinton recommends The Brothers Karamazov and The Clan of the Cave Bear, while Trump doesn’t have much time to read, except his own book. (Obama is a more literary reader.)
2. The classicist Mary Beard recently wrote about Max Beerbohm’s novel, Zuleika Dobson, at A Don’s Life, her blog at the TLS. (Statues of Roman emperors play a part.) I must admit Zuleika Dobson is one of the more misogynist novels I’ve read, but her lively essay makes me want to reread it. Here is an excerpt.
The story is a simple one. It tells of the young, exotically named, and stunningly good looking Zuleika who arrives among the dreaming spires to stay with her grandfather, who is the head of the semi-fictional Judas College. Not only does Zuleika herself fall in love for the first time; but all the male undergraduates fall in love with her. Literally all of them: and so badly in love that they end up killing themselves for her, every single one. At the end of the novel the unworldly dons seem hardly to have noticed that the students are all dead (even though the dining hall is strangely empty); meanwhile on the very last page, Zuleika is found making inquiries about how best to get to Cambridge . . . and it’s not too hard to guess what will happen there. It’s a satire not only on the dangers of women, but also on the madness of this masculine university world.
3. The stunning novel La Femme de Gilles, by Madeleine Bourdouxhe, translated by Faith Evans, is one of the 10 Must-Read Books for November at Flavorwire. On May 26 I wrote at this blog,
The Belgian writer Madeleine Bourdouxhe’s exquisite first novel, La Femme de Gilles, published in 1937 and translated by Faith Evans in 1992, explores the pain of adultery. It is told mainly from the point of view of Elisa, the faithful wife who is in love with her handsome husband Gilles, a factory worker.
We don’t think of working-class marriages in fiction as erotic. In most working-class novels, marriages are exhausting and unhappy: in D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, Paul’s refined mother despises her coal miner husband; in Hariettte Simpson Arnow’s The Dollmaker, Gertie’s factory worker husband squanders her savings; and in Tillie Olsen’s Yonnondio, Jim works in a slaughterhouse and beats his wife and children.
The fact that Donald Trump does not read is no great surprise but this does not commend me to the old European who I am. I hope that Hillary Clinton is less tormented than the Brothers Karamazov…
Never could read Zuleika Dobson. It was years ago but I found it so very …self-conscious.
Obama is a reader so we’re curious about politicians’ reading. Dostoevsky’s better than Trump, thank God. Beard’s take on Zuelika Dobson is fascinating, though I didn’t like the book myself.
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I’ve sold books online (using eBay, which I should think is the way to go unless you have high volume to offset the fees charged by Abe and Amazon). It’s not difficult, but you do have to navigate the whole eBay system. Prices are dependent on supply and demand for your book, and just the random chance of whether someone is looking for your book at the time you post it. If you have questions feel free to email me!
Oh, thank you, Lory. I’ll see if I can figure it out. I’ve bought on ebay and had good experiences.
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I am not sure that people with power in government should be messing around with The Brothers Karamazov. They seemed unbalanced to me.
I used to sell books on eBay. Sometimes I did well, usually not. Anything that is widely available will bring very little money if you can sell it at all. Unusual or high demand books sell for more than you can get from the local dealer. It takes some time and effort to figure out which is which.
Dostoevsky is not my favorite, but I must admit I haven’t read The Brothers K! I will check out ebay. Most of my books would bring in nothing. It’s over $10 for the Dickens or the Planned Parenthood Book Sale!
$10 is an insult! I’ve sold books on eBay in the past and I find you have to be patient and prepared to relist frequently until the right person who wants to read your book comes along. Postage charges are always an issue too, at least in the UK – I guess the Dickens would cost quite a few dollars to send….
I really was shocked by the $10. I knew they’d give very little, but thought they’d offer at least $15. It’s probably better to list and relist and then give it away to Planned Parenthood if it doesn’t sell. It’s not one of the really beautiful Folio Society sets–I think they’ve upgraded their paper, etc., this century–but It’s certainly good for what it is.
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I am sorry that you could not get a better deal for the books. Do you know anyone who would cherish them? Many years ago I sold some rare first editions on eBay until the day when a man wrote saying that there was a ripped page in the book. It was certainly not there when I sent it. I know that for a fact. He had paid well over $100 for it. What was I to do? If I asked for it back, he would just rip a page. He said that if I gave him half the cost he paid, he would settle for it. I am sure that I got ripped off but have no idea what I could have done. So I’m just warning you that not all eBay buyers (or sellers) are decent people.
And how I wish that politicians spent less time in diners munching on donuts and more time reflecting on literature. I’d like to have them engage in a literary debate:
Rachel Maddow: Secretary Clinton, what is your interpretation of the “Intimations Ode” by Wordsworth?
“Mr. Trump, assess the character of Humbert Humbert from Lolita?”
Just a little fantasy…..
Yes, you don’t know who the customers are. Perhaps I’ll give them to the Planned Parenthood Book Sale. I’ll have to see.
I do love Obama’s summer reading lists!
I bought this set at Half Price Books in February – sticker was $125 and I had a 1/2 off coupon. Still, they should’ve offered at least $50 for something they would sell for $125. The single copy of Bleak House that matches the set (but was sold separately was $40).
I’ve still got it because I was too stubborn to sell it!