© Norman Sperling, November 19, 2012
For half a century I've built my library. First I accumulated all the astronomy references I could get. Then I expanded to history of science. More recently, science humor and science travel.
I read many hundreds of them. I use their old illustrations in my courses and lectures. I traced the development of ideas over centuries using long shelves arranged by date.
And now it's time to sell off most of the ones I don't expect to ever use again.
I'm keeping books that
1. I like (usually because of what they say, sometimes how they look)
2. I have a story about (occasionally negative)
3. I expect to use
Not all the books that I price will sell right away, so I'll still have those for a while.
I'm also putting off selling books autographed by living authors. I got almost 400 volumes autographed, but I did so for myself, not for resale value. I wouldn't want any authors to think I got their autographs just to raise the resale price a few dollars. Since it's hard to hurt the feelings of deceased authors, it's OK to sell those autographs. Books that I bought already autographed are fair game, of course.
For pricing, I seek the median for used copies presently listed online. I add a bit for rarity and autographs and great condition. I subtract a bit for worse condition and commonness.
If a book is rare, I say so on the tab. Or "uncommon". Sometimes I think to myself "deservedly rare", though I don't mark "unimportant" or "undistinguished" or "dull" even when that's what I think.
If I don't like a book, or its author, and want to sell fast, I'll cut the price markedly. Just now I thought "I never liked this book" so I said that on the price tab, and marked it 1 cent. Years ago I had a book I couldn't stand, but couldn't stand to dump into recycling, either. I taped a nickel to it, with the statement "Here's 5 cents if you'll take this away." Sure enough, someone did, with a grin.