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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Inevitable downsizing

I am reaching the stage where I have almost run out of room to store my books and wargames stuff. As a result I am giving serious thought to downsizing my collections. (This is likely to be necessary in the near future anyway, as my wife and I are thinking about moving to a smaller house or bungalow outside London, possibly on the Kent coast.)

I am beginning with my collection of books, and I have already identified some that either duplicate what others cover or which are about topics that no longer interest me. Once this has been done, I will think about disposing of them. If possible, I might sell them on eBay or to a dealer; if not, I might just list them somewhere on my blog so that regular readers can identify any that they might want to take off my hands for the cost of postage and packing ... and a small donation to my moving fund.


Once that has been done, I will move on to my wargame collections. I know that I am very unlikely to use some of them in the foreseeable future, and disposing of them makes sense. Like the books, this might be done using eBay or using less formal channels.

I have no idea how long this process is going to take (weeks, if not months is a reasonable estimation) but I will keep my regular blog readers apprised of my progress.

I did read an very helpful article about how to downsize ones library. The rules were quite simple:
  • Get rid of it if it's falling apart
  • Get rid of it if it was a gift, and you are only keeping it out of guilt
  • Get rid of it if it's a school or college textbook ... and you are no longer at school or college
  • Get rid of it if you’ve read it — and you didn’t like it!
  • Get rid of it if you’ve had it for more than two years and you haven’t read it
  • Get rid of it if you have more than one copy
Sound advice ... just as long as I can keep to it.

37 comments:

  1. Some of those reasons for choosing books to get rid of match my reasons for getting some of mine! That falling to bits - until I bought Garrison I had started getting into bookbinding... so bought lots of books I wanted that were cheap simply because they were falling to piece. That haven't read it yet... lots there, though if you buy a book as a reference resource then you may not read it - it's there for reference when it is needed! And more than one copy... there are a few that I've bought more than one of by mistake - but quite a few are different versions of the 'same' book or set bought because... well, I like having the different versions. Or I had intended to rebind them. School or college, that's nostalgia.

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    1. Rob Young,

      I would never willingly get rid of books unless - as is my case - I was on the verge of running out of space and thinking of moving.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. I ran out of space for books as well , tend to get them in electronic form now especially the paperback once only read type - but you can't beat hardback for reference books with maps and illustrations .

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    1. The Good Soldier Svjek,

      Like you, I've tended to move from printed paperback or hardback fiction over to eBooks, but reference books HAVE to be hardbacks. It is one reason why I publish almost all my books in hardback, paperback, and eBook formats.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. I wish you the best of luck in the venture. One word of warning, don't expect too much in the way of monetary gain. People seem to expect to pay very little, especially for fairly modern titles. I blame that auction site, as prior to that one had to really search for a book and pay what a dealer wanted. I've just donated 5 boxes of woodwork/furniture making books to my old school library as I couldn't get a dealer interested in the lot and couldn't bear the thought of donating to a charity shop. (I used to volunteer as a book sorter, and know how many go to recycle).

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    1. Joppy,

      I'm not too worried about making money from my surplus books; I just want them to go to a good home ... hence the idea that people would pay postage and packing plus a small donation.

      The paperback fiction will go to a local charity shop, and they can dispose of them as they see fit.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. I got rid of quite a few books in a recent clear out. Most of them were either of little interest to me or were just taking up too much space.

    I now find I still have quite a few books but their net value is increasing as I am trying to keep the good ones.

    One wonders if I can realise their true value when I do decide to move them on.

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    1. Jim Duncan,

      I learned long ago that a book is only worth what someone will pay for it, hence my decision to pass as many of them on for the cost of postage and packing plus a small donation.

      I don't have any real gems (e.g. first editions of famous books) but I do have a load of books that others might find useful.

      My only regret is deciding to start this downsizing exercise on such a humid day! Even with the tower fan going and the windows open I am getting very hot and bothered!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. I disposed of about half of my military/wargaming books when we moved last year by donating them to a charity shop. They later wrote to us and said they made £300 out of them which I was very pleased with. Trying to sell books on eBay is a right faff for the small amount of money they realise.

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    1. Stryker,

      Thanks for your advice, I've sold the odd book on eBay, but I have been in two minds about whether or not to sell my surplus books that way. I'd like to pass them on to other wargamers if possible.

      The hardback fiction books will definitely be going to one of the charity shops, so that it can benefit from my downsizing exercise.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  6. Bob,
    I trimmed my Book Collection to the bare bones- without regret. e-Bay sales for Books is very difficult to make good money out of it - and it takes ages. In my last clearance I delivered three boxes of Books (worth about $300) to a 2nd Hand Bookshop for $30 Credit -which I used to buy 4 Books and 2 DVDs from the Shop...most pleased with the exchange. You mentioned moving to the Kent Coast and a smaller abode- sounds marvelous Bob, though I hope you will still have a Games Room / Hobby Room. Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson,

      Thanks for your excellent advice. It looks as if using eBay to sell my books is a bit of a non-starter.

      Wherever we move, our new home will have a toy/wargames room. It's one of the 'must haves' in any place that we buy.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Bob,
    There is very very little return on placing books on E Bay Frankly its quite heartbreaking to see what prices books that you have enjoyed never selling. Personally a great way to down size is book a table at one of the wargaming shows, preferably a big show that organises a table top sale. Far more satisfying to meet a buyer who delights in buying something you want to sell. You wont make a fortune but you should be able to move quite a bit of stuff. Dont forget if you use this method that you will have people haggle so start at a decent price and work downwards. Best of luck. Oh, and if you have a copy of Sturat Asquith's Siege Warfare, I would love to pay a fair price for it.

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    1. Robbie Rodiss,

      Yet another vote against using eBay to sell my books. It looks as if I am going to have to knock that idea on the head ... but I like your idea of selling the books at a wargames show. That is something that I'll have to give some serious thought to.

      All the best,

      Bob

      PS. If I find a copy of Stuart Asquith's book, I'll let you know.

      Delete
    2. Robbie Rodiss,

      You are in luck! I found a copy! If you contact me by email with your address etc., I can arrange to post it to you.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  8. Hi Bob,

    One thing you could do is check how much each of your books is going for on Amazon (much more popular for books than eBay). Have a limit for what you think is worth the effort, so everything under £5 or £10 or whatever gift away, everything above that, sell. I have found this basic approach has worked really well.

    All the best

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    1. JWH,

      What a good idea! I'll see what the books are worth as a means of separating them into 'sellers' and 'givers'.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  9. I find it near impossible to get rid of books that aren't duplicates, even ones that have sat unread for acouple of decades... I don't envy your task.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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    1. Pete.,

      I used to be like that ... but in the end I had to accept that you can either live in a house where you cannot find anything or live where you can find what you have when you need it.

      Its not an easy task, but it is a necessary one.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. That time is upon me already- today I spent 10 mins looking for a book I was sure I had but was hidden in a pile of books. Rummaging for it caused two 'bookalanches.'

      I refuse to confront the reality that is staring me in the face.

      Cheers,

      Pete.

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    3. Pete.,

      I sympathise with your recent dilemma. Whilst looking for a box that was under the table in my toy/wargame room, I managed to crack my head twice; once on the way under and once getting out.

      The sooner I don't have to do that again, the better!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  10. I should start doing that (weeding out/downsizing) with my books, miniatures and games. I hope to downsize my abode in the next year, so taking time to downsize my "stuff" in the meantime is part of my plan. I'm also of the mind that trying to sell stuff online isn't worth the hassle (especially if you factor in the time and expense of packaging and shipping and handling).

    The trick is to figure out what to get rid of. I have unloaded so much "stuff" during past moves that I later wish I had kept. But then I have replaced a few of those things and have learned to live without the rest.

    Good luck in your endeavor!

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    1. Fitz-Badger,

      I should have done this a long time ago, and once or twice in recent years I have had a big sort-out ... but this is different and will be far more drastic.

      Judging by the opinions expressed so far, trying to sell anything is going to be long-winded and potentially fruitless, hence my growing inclination to give stuff away to people who will use it.

      Its going to be a tough few weeks ahead, but once it is done, life should be a lot easier if and when we decided to move.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  11. I got rid of my old textbooks by posting a message on Kijiji. I had a couple of people show up, who took them all off my hands.

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    1. Robert Hingley,

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      Funnily enough, whilst in the earliest stage sorting my books I discovered that I had already given away most of my old textbooks, many of which were for courses and qualifications that are no longer taught!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  12. Down sizing etc is a tough one, if I could only follow my own advice, I would be winning :-)

    When I moved from a house to an apartment, pretty much the entire book collection had to go. The Ospreys were quite saleable to a dealer, everything else was not!

    I just think you have to be ruthless, even if that means a combination of refuse / charity shop / sale. The problem with e-bay etc is that books are heavy and so postage is high and so selected items of interest can be sold, but the bulk removal of the collection is unlikely to happen that way.

    As an aside, I now have over 140 military books on my kindle / iPad, sometimes reading in that way can be like having a bath with your wellies on, but the thought of how much space they would take and the sheer weight of that much paper, makes the e-format a winner for me ... except for rules, I hate e-rules (like having a bath with both wellies AND an overcoat on!).

    One of the big obstacles to getting rid of things is our own mindset about value, it can be most liberating to turn value to zero and just get rid, the real value of that become the liberation of space and of one's continual struggle and distraction to ensure it.

    I am about to 'bin' some stuff myself, just to break my cycle of inertia on the matter. It has taken a lot of 'thinking' to get me to this point, but overall it is a force for good, for me, I feel, but a step too far for others perhaps.

    I do sell things at shows, but I love my shows and I want to be there to fully immerse in the experience, not be sat there at a table selling or fighting through the queue (bad back thing) with my stuff to sell on an overcrowded Bring 'n Buy table and then later queue again to collect (cash or unsold - though everything I take is cheaply marked so it goes, it almost feels like 'what is the point').


    Well there you are, I've gone off on one now :-)

    Good luck with your plans, I'm just off to the tip … or maybe I will wait for a few days :-)

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    1. Norm,

      You are absolutely right; if you keep asking 'what is this worth? or saying to yourself 'that might be very useful in the future if I ever decide to do ...', you never get rid of anything! Likewise, looking at your collection and thinking 'it cost me x, so it must be worth that' will only lead to disappointment. It is only worth what someone else will be willing to pay for it ... which is not a lot!

      I am currently sorting the books I have into categories:
      1. Those I will definitely keep
      2. Those I will definitely send to the charity shop (mainly novels)
      3. Those I will try to sell (a very small pile indeed!)
      4. Those I will give away to anyone who wants them
      5. Those I'm not sure about

      The last group is - in fact - the most difficult category to sort. They are more a sort of 'I'd like to keep them if I have room' category, and are the group that I am going to have to be really ruthless when I make any final decisions about whether or not to keep individual books.

      I do have some military history books on my Kindle, but in the main I prefer to have printed versions, if only because of things like maps and diagrams. Like you I don't like having electronic versions of rules, but I have found that quite a few people like to buy mine in electronic format, and then buy a printed versions if they like what they see.

      I'll be off now to do some more sorting before it gets too hot and humid in my toy/wargames room.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  13. I agree with the criteria except for the last; some books I have read I kept for thirty years before I read them but I'd be unlikely to find the more obscure ones when I was finally ready to read them.

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    1. James James,

      One thing I am sure about; as soon as I get rid of a book, I'm going to discover that I should have kept it!

      Its one of the inevitable consequences of downsizing any collection.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  14. The number of times I've searched my shelves only for my wide to tell me it went to Oxfam last year. I have bought a book from Oxfam that i had donated the week before!

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    1. Prince Lupus,

      Years ago I lent someone a book, but after a very long wait and several reminders, it hadn't been returned, so I bought a new copy.

      The new book arrived in the same post as the loaned book ... which was returned with profuse apologies by the person who had borrowed it!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  15. Prince Lupus, that made me laugh. (I could see myself doing that)

    This discussion is good. It's making me think about my own situation. One idea that occurs to me is to decide on how much shelf space I want to keep and then limit the collection to that. That might be easier to settle on when I know how much space I will have when I get a smaller house, but it would be better to start downsizing the collection sooner, over a number of months, rather than trying to do it in the midst or aftermath of a move. So I'm stuck in a bit of a loop. The best I can do for now is to try to do some sorting out on a regular basis, bit by bit (or book by book).

    I'm with you guys on preferring paper books for certain things for sure - especially when maps, diagrams, and pictures are part of the equation (although, if those things were made for digital, taking advantage of things digital can do that paper can't that might be a different story).

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    1. Fitz-Badger,

      My wife has suggested that once the sort-out is completed that I try to stick to a 'one book in, one book out' policy. If coupled with a limited amount of shelf space, it should stop the problem coming back.

      I happen to prefer to have printed non-fiction books, even though many are available electronically. There is something more aesthetically pleasing about holding a book than holding a Kindle ... and the same goes for toy soldiers as opposed to cardboard counters.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  16. Not surprising that you got so many comments to this one Bob ;)

    I have literally just come down from the "loft" where a mini cull is taking of 'hobby items' in said loft. Books .. my Achilles heel ;)

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    1. Geordie an Exile FoG,

      It's a common problem ... and something that we all think about but don't always do much about.

      Acquiring books is also one of my 'failings' ... but it's a very pleasurable one!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  17. Last year after my father died we had to try and clear two rooms full of books - these were mainly military biographies and WWI and WWII. These were of limited interest to me and local charity shops to him in Sandwich swiftly said no more so my brother ended up taking car loads to charity shops all over Kent and I brought loads up to the Oxfam shop here.

    We didn't sell a single book but I take the view they gave my father decades of pleasure so they had paid for themselves many times over. The Oxfam man here was delighted and assured me they would have no problem selling them and if they raised a bit of money for the charity, so much the better.

    Guy

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    1. Lindsay (Guy),

      I am hoping to pass my surplus on to people who will enjoy and use them. I've managed to sell some of the hardback novels, but don't expect that second-hand booksellers will be interested in buying very many of my military books.

      All the best,

      Bob

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