Sunday, May 04, 2008

What to do with Extraneous Books? 

It's been a busy couple weeks, so busy I haven't had a chance to mention that I flew to Huntsville AL for three days this past week (to train newbee software engineers in the right and proper processes for doing their jobs). I've been to Huntsville probably a dozen times over the past 20 years, though this latest trip was my first visit there since 2000, I think.

Meanwhile at home I've been consolidating the past year's new books into the general collection on my library shelves, and trying to think what to do with the now several hundred review copies of books that I don't care to keep that have accumulated in a couple closets over the past 5 years. Suggestions welcome. I'm sure my problem is dwarfed by that of actual book reviewers; as editor of the website I get only a smattering of books for review each month, but the rule of thumb is that such freebies that come in the mail are rarely books I'd otherwise pay for, or actually want to read. Many are proofs or ARCs (advance reading copies), which I would replace with actual published editions in the event I did want to read and keep them. Many are self-published, in some sense or another.

The duplicates and paperback reprints of books I otherwise already own I can deal with: I have friends I can pass them on to. The books from reputable publishers (Tor, DAW, Del Rey, et al) that I'm just not interested in myself I can similarly offer to such friends without endorsements. More problematic are those self-published and obscure small press items that I would have to be stuck on a desert island with before I'd be inclined to try to read. I can't bring myself to simply *throw them away*. But I can't in any honesty pass them on to friends as worth their time, either. So what, then? Anyone reading have this problem? Or a solution?

-- Update Monday evening:
Thanks for the suggestions, but my quandary is those self-published books I'm not sure I would wish on anyone, not soldiers, not prisoners. Some are books I've dutifully listed on the site; a bunch are books sent to me when I was a judge for a certain SF award a couple years ago, and those I did read portions of, and many are really just awful. Land fill? Insulation?
I donate my extras to the local "friends of the library" group, which puts them on sale semi-annually to benefit the library. Occasionally I've also put them on the "free shelf" of my condominium for other residents to take as they will. They've always been taken. I've been thinking of just offering them as giveaways on my blog. Not as a contest exactly. More like, "comment here and name your book from this list" and send it to whoever first wants them.
Suggestion: Donate them to your local library. That way people who are interested in them may get to read them.
Donate them to one of the many groups that provides books for military personnel in Southwest Asia. That's a big problem at present; a year ago there was a push to do so, but it tapered off.
re C. E. Petti's comment, there's this: http://booksforsoldiers.com/

Also, I know of one bookstore who receives lots of galleys/proofs/finished books, so many that not even the staff can read or review them all. They donate them to a local prison. Obviously rules in your area may be different.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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