Taking Stock

Digging into the archives of my office has stirred up more than dust…

If there are any fellow scribes reading this: Do you (by design or inertia) have boxes of copies of your own out-of print works piled in a corner? If you do, do you offer them for sale in any organized way? If so, what venues have been most successful for you?

Looking over the back third of my walk-in office closet, I feel as though I’ve ended up with too much ‘inventory.’ The question is what’s to be done about it at this point.

At various times I’ve been a bookseller on Amazon Marketplace, eBay, and half.com, but never primarily to sell my own books–and all those venues have become tougher for small sellers since then.

Hand-selling? Up until the mid-90s, I was attending 6 to 8 cons a year and giving the occasional school or library presentation, which offered some organic opportunities to sell books. But as my focus changed to raising my two younger children, I cut way back events of that kind. Health issues in the family cemented the change.

Of course, as I detailed here last year, depression triggered by my father’s death has intervened to choke off the creation of new material. That alone has, over time, moved me firmly into the Who? Zone, if not I-Thought-‘e-Was-Dead Territory. I’m out of touch with most of the readership I used to have, and I frankly have no clue how to connect with any prospective new readers in this instant-access ebook/social media era.

So, who knows, maybe the best destiny of most of that inventory is to be doled out in increments to Friends of the Library sales. Maybe their fate is to be unsentimentally recycled by my heirs. Maybe any effort I might put into finding homes for these paper copies would be better spent getting my remaining titles available digitally.

But I’m still curious about what other writers are doing with their own surplus Dead Tree Editions.

Office Cleaning

The township recycling event two Saturdays from now is accepting both electronics and software, so this seems like a good time to ruthlessly scan my office (and office closet) for Things I’ll Never Use Again.

First under the microscope was a box of software originally released on floppy disks–the likes of Civilization II, SimEarth, F-117 Stealth Fighter, Harpoon, M1-A1 Abrams, and the Colorado Backup program that came with my first QIC-80 tape drive. They want MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, or Windows 95, and that’s just not going to happen here.

Of course, those were the days software came in a two-pound box the size of a large hardcover book–slipcover, dividers, installation discs in multiple formats, manuals, registration cards, keyboard templates, maps. So I had to break each one down into components to meet the recycling requirements. Cardboard, Boxboard, Plastic, Misc Paper, Books, Magnetic Media. Chaos precedes order.

I held back MYST and RIVEN, for now.

Coming up next, the fliptop boxes of 5.25″ floppies, the drawers of 3.5″ floppies and QIC-80 drives, the shoeboxes full of data CDs and DVDs, the media rack full of program CDs, the clothes basket full of computer speakers, the fan-fold, pin-feed paper box full of power cords, the plastic totes full of every kind of cable used in PCs over the last 35 years, the box of old phones, the crate of wall-warts and laptop power supplies belonging to devices long gone, the stacks of assorted drives removed from some of my 50+ dead or retired computers, the three dead computers tucked away under the library table…

It’s going to be a busy two weeks, with a lot of trips up and down the basement stairs.