Ever since I pared down my handbag collection, I’ve been itching to get the other big suitcase out of our bedroom that is currently holding all the sundresses and nice dresses that used to be in the guest room closet. But to do that, I need to do some serious closet purging, and I am totally overwhelmed by that idea. Every time I try to start, my brain kind of locks up and I feel like I can’t make even simple decisions, so I give up and do something else.
But the other night I couldn’t sleep, so rather than toss and turn, I went online and did some research about the processes other people have gone through to pare down their wardrobes. And I came across a few articles about the “capsule wardrobe” – specifically the “French capsule wardrobe”, that seemed pretty interesting, and noticed one woman had written a book where she covered the subject pretty extensively. After reading some excerpts and her blog, I decided I wanted to read her book as well.
And since I recently rekindled my love affair with the public library, I am proud to say I checked for the book there first. They did have some copies, but they all were currently checked out until May, and there were about 13 holds on all their copies.
As I have said before, I am all for saving money and not brining more things into my life, but I have to tell you, I HATE to wait. It makes me super double extra beyond irritable. And while I recognize my impatience is not an attractive trait, and I try to work on it, I have a long way to go, and it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And waiting around for 13 other people to read the book I want to read right NOW? Uh-uh. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. I had to find another way.
So I decided to sell some of the books I already owned in order to afford the new one I wanted to buy. I went online to Powell’s (where I always sell back my used books) and saw they had a copy of the book I wanted, and it was even a used copy for $16.95 (new it retailed for $23). Perfect. I scoured my bookshelves and amassed a stack of books to help my cause:
Two of the books in this stack I’d never even read. One was signed by the author, which was the only reason I had kept it, and the other was a collector’s edition of a book for which I had paid about forty dollars. I had caught the very end of the movie version of the book on television one night, and was intrigued so I decided to buy the book to discover the rest the story. I never got around to reading it though, and a few years later, YouTube hit the internet and I was able to watch the entire movie for free. Nice waste of forty bucks.
I was pretty confident as I carried my books to the buy-back counter that I would not only be able to afford the book I wanted, but I might make enough in trade to buy TWO books. Or I could take cash and use some of it to buy the book, and use the rest to buy myself a little treat, like a new lipstick or something. I had the money spent twenty different ways before I even hit the front of the line.
When it was my turn, I handed the book buyer the autographed book separate from the others saying, “This one is signed by the author,” and waited for her impressed expression.
She glanced at it, and wrinkled her nose a little. “Yeah, well, for an author like that…it doesn’t make much of a difference.”
I was a little taken aback. I had specifically held on to that book because it was signed, and that made me feel it was valuable. Trying to rally, I showed her my collector’s edition book. She typed some numbers into the computer, and watched the screen with a furrowed brow, her eyes darting back and forth.
“Well,” she sighed, “That book USED to be considered a collector’s edition, but with the internet now, it’s too easy to find a copy of it. I can buy it from you as a reader’s edition if you’re not super attached to it.”
This was getting depressing. And concerning. Those two were the ones I actually thought were valuable and would definitely sell. I numbly agreed to selling the collector’s edition as a reader’s edition, and then watched her rapidly sort through my other books, the majority of which she pushed back across the counter at me as “no thank yous.” In the end, she only bought three of my books.
For a total of $7.25.
I dumped my unsellable books (including the autographed one) into their recycle box, found the book I’d come there to buy, and went to the registers. With the buy-back money, I had knocked down the price to $9.70, which was better than $23, or even $16, but still not free as I had anticipated. I was pretty bummed.
As I waited in line though, I thought about how many times, while doing resale of any kind – clothing, books, music, ebay, craigslist, even yard sales – I have been surprised to find out how little value my stuff actually has to the rest of the world. Things that I have held on to for years because I felt they were special or valuable have often been items I couldn’t even sell for a dollar – I’ve had to just give them away. Which makes it seem a bit crazy that I’ve spent so much money and time and energy acquiring all that stuff, and storing it. I am the one who assigned it value and gave it space in my home. To the rest of the world, it’s just crap. And no one wants my crap. And when I think about it that way, some of it is starting to look more like crap to me too.
So in the end, I got the book I wanted and I didn’t have to wait for it, and I’m finding it really useful as I approach my closet cleaning. I also ended up with less crowded bookshelves since I got rid of twelve books and only bought one new one. And I got a really valuable reminder about, well, value. For $9.70. BARGAIN!