Saturday, August 15, 2009

The monetary value of books, yard sale advertising tip

Went yardsaling today by myself. Leaf and the kids are down in the city visiting family, and James sleeps in like your average 14 year old. Managed to find a nice maple toy box with one of those hydraulic closers to avoid crushing little fingers. We had been meaning to add a closer to the existing toybox for a while now. Funny that a nicer box with closer was cheaper at a yard sale than a new closer by itself.

Also scored a book that I've been looking for - "Native Trees of Canada". We did a tree identification walk while we were at Geneva Park last month and the book was highly recommended. I've been wanting a tree guide for years and years, but didn't want to pay new book prices. Cost me a buck. The only tree I remember from the dozen or so "simple leaf" trees we examined at GP is Red Elm. We have a small one in the back yard, which is nice, but now I plan on figuring out all the different species on our property. I love how things that I want or need almost always show up at yard sales. Eventually! Delayed gratification is so much more rewarding.

Found a stack of books for Mars. Some great educational ones - bugs, leaves, minerals, gems, cystals, microscopes. Plus some Robert Munsch (a great children's author who came and read books to my class when I was a wee lad), and a stack of Magic Schoolbus books I'll probably give to my nephew Jovin who loves them. All the books were in like new condition. I happily paid the asking price of ten cents each. Two dollars and fifty cents. Adding up the retail cover prices comes to about $250.

One cent on the dollar is a pretty good yard sale price. I don't understand though. Books are valuable, but so many people don't value them. I see it all the time at yard sales. Ten cents, twenty five cents for mint condition books with retail prices as high as fifty dollars. Even popular novels are usually only 50 cents or a dollar. Compare that to DVDs. Your standard older or B-list movie is about the same price as a new softcover book ($9.99 to $12.99). New release movies and tv show box sets are similarly priced to new hardcover books ($29.99 and up).

If I offered a dollar for a used DVD at a yard sale, I'd either be laughed at or be the insulting lowballer they talk about for the rest of the day. But offer a dollar for a book and most people will figure you for a sucker. Which is why I never offer on books - the asking price is almost always lower than what I'd happily pay.

What is it with books that they aren't valued? I think its because books take time and effort and intelligence to enjoy, and they expand your mind. TV/movies/videogames just kill time and expand your waistline. I'll take books any day.

Incidentally, one of these days I'm going to write a post about tips for holding a yard sale. People are so stupid sometimes. Often. All the time? Here's a tip: if you're advertising your yard sale in the newspaper, spell your street name correctly so people can find it on a paper or online map when they don't know where it is. Same people also had the wrong street number in the ad.

This very same yard sale also committed the other cardinal yard sale advertising silliness - tiny printing. One of those store bought neon signs with "Yard Sale" in big letters. The space underneath was crammed with address, directions, dates, times, whats at the yard sale. I'm sure the font size 20 printing looked great on your computer monitor or when the sign is six inches in front of your face... but how are people supposed to read that from 20 feet away while in a moving vehicle? It also didn't help that the sign was at an intersection one kilometer and three turns from the sale with no other signs in between.

Day-of "yard sale" signs should only ever have one of two other things on them - your street name and number in giant letters, or a giant arrow pointing out every turn from the closest main road or highway to your yard sale.

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