Review: Selling/Giving Away Books etc

pictured: approximate value - £11.71

What’s being tested?

The act of earmarking books, CDS, DVDs, video games, toys and other things for resell or donation, with the goals of optimising the seller’s fiscal bearings, freeing up previously occupied living space, and redistributing articles of culture back into society.

What we found

Pros:  We found that selling books, CDs etc was a great way of increasing not only your personal income (albeit by a very small degree), but also your own sense of cultural philanthropy, especially if you donate your former belongings. Our testers also suggested that selling or donating books etc was a fun way of ‘sticking it to the man’ i.e. the bloated music and publishing sectors, and that, if enough people sold or donated the same product, then that would send a clear physical warning to any other potential purchasers of that product about the quality of their prospective buy.

We also found that having a clear-out of old books etc. emboldens the individual with a sense of new beginnings, and that ejecting ‘old culture’ from his or her life feels like positive progress, even when the individual is, in reality, really just selling old books (etc). It was suggested that jettisoning ‘old culture’ was a good way of creating room for ‘new culture’, both in the individuals living space and in their head (though our testers warned that the combination of the new found space and money may lead to the individual simply trying to fill that space with rusted American diner paraphernalia or ‘cast-offable’ statuettes of Japanese cartoon characters) .

Cons:  Our testers found that the kind of books etc sold or donated second hand were, relatively speaking, rarely of any actual cultural worth, as most individuals primarily intended on ridding their houses of all the old inkjet printers, hardback copies of “A Beginner’s First Filmless Digital Camera” and Dilbert’s Desktop Games CD-roms that still occupied so much space. Said items were also found to have remarkable staying power, returning from car boot sales, multiple online auction listings and anonymous early morning charity drops with a grim and yet strangely touching tenacity. In fact, we noted that it was often very difficult to sell or donate anything, as a result of a residual emotional attachment the individual was found to have with each and every object they intended to ‘pass on’ (especially if the earmarking process was conducted over a longer period of time). We found that every item that we attempted to sell or donate had a memory or memories attached to them – memories, crucially, that were only ever re-remembered when a proper consideration of each item was conducted. As selling or donating these items would mean losing the ‘bridging’ element between the prospective seller and his or her otherwise forgotten past, giving up old inkjet printers and Dilbert’s Desktop Games becomes an intimidating prospect. A pile of such items, then, constitutes an unprecedented assault on the individual’s emotional and sentimental fortitude.

Additionally, we found that the process of selling or donating cultural belongings was extremely susceptible to outside criticism and snobbery, though most of that was subsequently found to be largely hypocritical. For example, it was observed that if the individual attempted to sell or give books, the outside perception was that the individual had no time for, or couldn’t handle, books. If the individual attempted to sell or give other things, with books absent from that roster, then the outside perception was often that the individual had never had any interest in books in the first place, or had never tried books, and as such had none to sell on. This criticism was found to be generally  unfair. Another noted criticism, however, was that a large surplus of donatables was a reflection of repeatedly poor value judgements and a sign that the individual was either lacking in some area of their life (with a habit of attempting to fill that void with ill-considered knee-jerk physical purchases), or that they simply had no idea how to cope with money, and by extension modern life. This criticism was found to be largely accurate.


We found that, in selling or donating books etc, it was easy to feel like less of an individual as a result of jettisoning so much culture, and that feelings of guilt at trading in precious words (and memory bridges) for easy coin were fairly predominant. On balance, though, our testers felt that the vacuum left by ‘old culture’ was an important one, as it left us the free space to become new individuals, informed and emboldened by the literary (and other entertainment) mistakes of the past. They stipulated that it almost wasn’t worth it, though, as the money you get for selling books etc. on the internet is next to nothing.


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