Off To The Library
Posted on March 9, 2013 Posted by John Scalzi 42 Comments
We’re doing a bit of spring cleaning here at the Scalzi Compound, and here you see one result of that: All these boxes and totes are filled up with finished books which are going to be a donation to the local library. There is a similar large stacking of ARCs which are not able to be donated (because they are not the finished product); those I’ll find a way to dispose of another way. This is, roughly a year’s worth of books sent to me, minus the ARCs and minus the books I’ve kept for my own private collection (which would be another considerable pile, much to Krissy’s exasperation, but never mind that at the moment).
All of which is to say: Yes, we have a lot of books here.
I’m thinking your local public library has one of the best-stocked science fiction sections in the state.
Stupid question: how much printer paper do you go through in a year?
There are schools in Africa and other English-speaking corners of the developing world that would be overjoyed to receive a package of ARCs. You wouldn’t depriving their publishers of sales, since they couldn’t ever afford to buy them.
None. I don’t do printers.
a different phil:
It is nicely stocked, yes.
Well, I guess that answers my question on your previous post! :)
If I recall right, the library now has the John Scalzi room, yes? Have you ever been to the Robert and Virginia Heinlein Library in Butler, MO? The Heinleins paid to renovate the library there and when I was through I stopped by — they were as proud as bunch to show this random nerd their collection.
those I’ll find a way to dispose of another way.
fireplace? wood burning stove?
Tammy sends her read and unkept books to several libraries – and our house is still more bookshelves (and cats) than anything else! :)
I usually ship my old ARCs to a military friend who sends them to troops overseas. SciFi/Fantasy is particularly popular with that crowd. My YA ARCs go to the local teen center and DV shelter.
On a side note, my next cross-country trip clearly needs a stop at the Bradford library so I can see the Scalzi room. And a stop in Missouri at the Heinlen library. (Wanders off to day-dream about a library-themed road trip…)
Sadly, I don’t think that our library would be receptive. They seem overly prim and proper about ‘curating standards’ – despite that fact that they have had some big cutbacks in hours; and worse, deep cuts in acquisitions.
If they took them at all, they would probably be shunted to the annual book sale, which I quit going to a few years ago because they allow the professionals (with their scanners and book carts) to swarm the sale and loot all the best stuff. Prices are rock bottom and these guys suck up hundreds (maybe thousands) of books in the first hour.
“Time enough! Time enough at last! Oh shit, my glasses!”
I’m paraphrasing, but I can’t help but think of this every time you feature your wealth of books.
Context for Herbie’s comment, for anyone who didn’t get the reference.
In the prime of my reviewing career (when I was getting truly boggling quantities of ARCs), I tended to donate a number of such to the annual fund-raising auction for the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund, held each year at OryCon. Given that the funds raised were going for a charitable purpose, and that the buyers were mostly collectors (i.e. they were virtually certain to buy a retail copy of the same book as well, rather than using the ARC as a reading copy), I figured this was a reasonable solution to the problem of running out of bookshelf space.
This is not necessarily as helpful a solution as it once was; my understanding is that for a variety of reasons, ARCs are not of nearly as much interest to collectors as they once were. And I imagine it’s a solution you’ve likely considered and/or used yourself in the past; OTOH, the example may be of interest to folks in the gallery with ARCs they may wish to pass on responsibly.
Thank goodness for kindles or I’d doing the same. We have been able to reclaim our linen closet for it’s original purpose.
Nice to see the books going to a good cause.
That answers a few things I’ve wondered. Namely, what do you do with all the books you get sent? And what are the legal and ethical concerns with donating all those books to a public library?
I still wonder, though, do you read all of the books? And if so, HOW???!??!??
(That last is rhetorical, and an expression with personal exasperation with the combination of ophthalmological issues and an incessant habit of sub-vocalization that limits my reading speed well below a page per minute.)
@ Doc RocketScience
I suspect publishers send him free books and ARCs because he shows them off on the site. With the traffic Whatever pulls in, that’s cheap publicity. We commenters are a small minority of the eyeballs, most of which will never click past the first page. Electronics manufacturers send free swag to YouTube vloggers with a fraction of the traffic John receives, and electronics are way more expensive to manufacture than ARCs.
i imagine most, if not all, you never read
Doc, a friend of mine used to write freelance music reviews (albums, shows at local venues) for several magazines and a few newspapers. She quit that gig several years ago but still gets CDs in the mail sent by publicists who have her on their mailing list. She doesn’t listen to all of them and never did. Like John, she keeps the ones she wants and gives away the rest.
There’s probably several charity auctions which would be glad for ARCs, although Con or Bust is over.
As a former library assistant who knows how nice it is to replace damaged books with fresh new copies or to use funds from public library book sales, I thank you for generously sharing. It gives those books a new life and your entire community will benefit.
You probably use goodreads to inventory your library but you should check out librarything.com. I have a cuecat barcode scanner and zip-zip and I’ve uploaded a whole slew of books into my database. 1500+ books after I pared it down a bit.
Speaking of personal libraries…
“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore, professore dottore Eco, what a library you have ! How many of these books have you read?” and the others – a very small minority – who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you don’t know as your financial means, mortgage rates and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menancingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan. The Impact of the Highly Improbable
When I worked at Half Price Books, we loved seeing ARCs and would usually fight for the possibility to buy them before they could even hit the shelves.
Cindy Lou Who wrote: “annual book sale, which I quit going to a few years ago because they allow the professionals (with their scanners and book carts) to swarm the sale and loot all the best stuff. Prices are rock bottom and these guys suck up hundreds (maybe thousands) of books in the first hour.”
Not to defend the practice, but from what I’ve seen, the “scanners” (usually a smartphone app) don’t work fast enough to be that big a problem. If it takes half a minute to scan a barcode and pull up pricing information, that’s a max of 120 books per hour. But the booksellers Cindy is talking about usually have a LOT of experience and good memories, and can make snap judgements about a book’s value in the overwhelming majority of cases. (I’ve never been a used-book merchant, but after 50+ years of compulsive reading and trying to stay aware of the business behind books, I could probably make a pretty good effort along those lines myself.) The scanners are useful in those instances where there are gaps in a bookseller’s on-brain database.
The older I get, the more I think my wife and I need to downsize our own library. At about 7500 books, the house is rather crowded. (Lots of boxes of unshelved books, alas.) I’m thinking I may set up an ABE online site and see how many of the excess I can sell myself.
For the ARCs, you could send them to Patrick Rothfuss, and let him auction/raffle them off for next year’s worldbuilders …
Broad Universe s/e/l/l/s/ gives out ARCs at Wiscon (Madison, WI, in May) in exchange for a donation to BU. I’m sure they could use them.
For the most part places don’t seem to want to bother with taking them in to sell.
The barcode scanners don’t get everything. I worked for a used-book store owner who used to hit the library sales but couldn’t afford a scanner. He, too, was indignant to see those guys triaging and scarfing up the good stuff far faster than he could–until, right in front of him, a guy missed a signed, first-edition James Baldwin for $2 because it predated bar codes. It also helps to actually know about books!
We (Friends of the Library where I live) just had our semi-annual 25-cent sale. Today’s sale went extremely well. You’ll be glad to know, the titles with your name on them (of which there were very few) disappeared quickly. Sadly, my considerable library got enlarged by 40 books this weekend.
I keep promising the wife I will do the sort of spring cleaning you just did and take boxes to the FOTL for sale, but why do I keep adding to my collection? My precious, precious books…. precious, I can’t part with you.
Actually, I use my cuecat scanner at home to scan my own books into librarything.com. I set off a mini-firestorm just mentioning the word “scanner”.
You know, they could save a lot of trees, and a lot of carbon emitted in creating them, if they just send you electronic copies of books.
Another option for the ARCs is a local hospital.
Hmmm, do you anticipate that the volume will drop next year once you are no longer president of the SFWA, or is this annual haul/chore purely a result of your status as world famous author/influential and receptive blogger?
I have this fantasy of building a wall out of books. Like a brick wall but with books instead. I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to actually do it.
Oh and sorry forgot to add: That “The Time for Lies is Over” in the right blue bin is haunting me.
That stack of boxes looks like me coming back from the library sale…
John – Does no one send you ebook versions?
Oh wow, lucky local library..
I prefer physical versions. Easier to show off on the blog (which is a primary reason books get sent to me, after all).
“which would be another considerable pile, much to Krissy’s exasperation, but never mind that at the moment” Hey, that’s just the price of marrying a writer (or a hoarder).
I get a combination of regular copies and ARC’s every year for reading for the Cybils Awards, and while I donate what I can, I hate the thought of throwing anything away. Shelters = a great idea.
Got rid of a couple hundred ARCs in a few hours around church festival time last year from a folding time on the sidewalk in front of the house. Your rural location may see different results – the smiling wife is guaranteed.