Living on a tight budget really ratchets up a particular quality of mine, one that has to do with being obsessed with optimization.
Example: I want to get rid of a bunch of books. Is it best to
a) drop them off at the Friends of the Library? (Internal gain only)
b) save them until my next swap party? (May help out friends)
c) post them at paperbackswap.com? (Get one credit for every book requested)
d) bring them into the local used book store, The Paperback Trading Post, for store credit? (Store credit!)
The answer is e) all of the above.
This is how it played out.
A few months ago, I was pretty much through with paperback swap, simply because when I want to get rid of books, that means I don’t want them sitting around in my closet indefinitely until somebody requests it from me. Also, I get most of my books from the library – those I can’t get (especially the Steiner Press ones), I generally have to bit the bullet and buy, because they aren’t available through paperback swap either.
Now, I do buy paperback fiction for my sister, Sue, because apparently that’s one thing not cheap or easy to come by in Bangkok. After enjoying the (guilty) heck out of the Sookie Stackhouse series, I determined to get Sue a set. I looked all over for a cheap used copy, but ended up buying her a brand new copy of the first book in the series.
Then I discovered an extremely useful feature on paperback swap: the waiting list.
I popped the rest of the Southern Vampire series on my waiting list – and lo! Within a week, the second book was automatically requested (by me) and shipped. Several months later, I had ALL NINE BOOKS ready to ship to Sue for Christmas.
That is COOL.
So, paperback swap is back in my good books.
But still, I don’t want to have so many books sitting in my closet waiting.
In the end, I brought ALL my books to the swap party last month. Then at the end of the party, I TOOK all the books remaining, which, all combined, was several boxes more than I’d brought.
I took those boxes to the used book store and turned in as many as she would take for store credit ($36 worth – but her books are expensive and many are not for trade – so I’ll use that credit as a last resort).
Then I weeded through what was left, and any I thought were not good candidates for paperbackswap, I sent with Chad to donate to The Friends of the Library.
The last 20 books I’ve posted on paperbackswap, and a week later, I’ve already sent five of them out. I will use those credits to get some more fiction to bring to my sister in Thailand in May.
On my list to read and possibly get for Sue:
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (reading now – won the Man Booker last year)
Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book (Highly recommended by two friends)
Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (recommended)
If you have other suggestions, please share!