Thursday, September 8, 2011


The time has come for another "friends and family" garage sale.  Not the kind where you actually sell your friends and family:  I'm sure, like everything else, that's illegal here in Florida.  No, I mean the good old fashioned "clean out your closets, then your attic" garage sale that seems to rear its ugly head every few years around here.  A day of sunburn, barter, hand-made signs, and foreign currency which signifies one of two things:  either it's the end of summer, or the kids have started outgrowing their clothes.

Like many other American families locked into their current mortgage, most of us hovering in the area of  100K in the hole, we're quickly running out of space.  With the addition of Caleb, the littlest wee one, and the every-other-weekend visits from Richard's daughter, we are in the process (okay, we have the lumber list) of converting the garage into a 4th bedroom, which virtually wipes out my chance of ever having my dream office, lined floor to ceiling with terrific, rainy-day reading material.  So what does a faithful reader do with their well-preserved collections of literature?

I thought about making some money.  I opened lid after lid of hermetically-sealed book totes, reveling in the smell of forgotten paper.  I grabbed a few at random, checking condition (great!) and price tag ($25.00!).  Wow, I must have a fortune here.  I could barely contain myself.  Images of dollar signs danced across my field of vision as I silently wondered which books I'd repurchase on my new Nook.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?  Check.  My amazing Stephen King library?  Check, check, and check.

As quick as my fingers could carry me, to I went.  I typed in title and author, sometimes I opted to search by ISBN, but regardless of my method, the outcome was the same.  I was searching completed listings, of which there were plenty.

The only problem is that they hadn't sold.

Some of them hadn't even sold for 99 cents.


Okay, maybe books can't be looked at as an investment, but what is going on here?  When I worked at Books-A-Million back in the late 90's, I remember spending full paychecks on carts of new releases.  Hardcovers, where is your worth?  I can pick up any book from my stacks and remember what I was doing when I finished that book.  The last book in the Dark Tower series?  Easy, I finished that one on a vacation to Costa Rica.  There's my Arabic to English trade paperback I last cracked in August of 2003.  I have two brand-new X-Files Collector's postcard books, riding in the same tote as as unused deck of Alice in Wonderland tarot cards, all purchased in the summer of 1998.  Sentimental, sure, but don't people collect things anymore?

Maybe the problem isn't in the non-collecting.  Maybe I'm looking at it wrong.  Maybe it's just that everyone who loves books already has their own collections, thank you very much.  But 99 cents?  It hurts my heart.

I sat back on my haunches and thought.  Certainly, someone in my family would enjoy some of these great books, right?  Sure!  I'll just gift them out!  But wait.  How do I know Aunt M. won't just use The Neverending Story as a drink coaster?  And Uncle D., surely he doesn't have time to read Ken Kesey these days.  Donating them brings about the same fears:  I'm haunted by the notion of books--MY books--laid face-down, spine-up, drink rings hazing the dust jacket.  Ouch.  Not a good way for my books to end up.  They deserve better.  It's not like I bought Bargain Bin books, for crying out loud.

When all is said and done, I guess they'll go back in the totes, and the totes will have a new home in the master bedroom closet...just in case I ever get that office.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?