It was a nice voice on the phone. “I know you guys take books. Do you ever take old computer monitors?”
I said “No”. I wanted to say “Only at gunpoint” but why tempt fate? I know how desperate a person gets when moving things.
So, not that I think YOU need to know, I thought I’d go over what we take at this here Book Fair. You can spread the word to your clueless friends. If one of them starts telling you about it before you can start, the problem is with your friends, not me.
We do take things other than books, if that’s worrying you. When it comes to books we take mighty near anything you’ve got. We would like to steer away from things where the supply vastly outweighs the demand: your common, everyday, outdated textbooks (we take the uncommon ones, even outdated), Reader’s Digest Condensed Books (but not all books published by Reader’s Digest are Condensed Books), and just about any professional publication which issues updates every three months, either by mail or email. By the time the Book fair rolls around, we could be three updates behind the times. (And it is my experience that such things generally occupy at least two full shelves.) And before you ask, yes, we take paperbacks, yes, we take cookbooks, yes, we even take those old travel books provided you haven’t torn pages out of them.
I can’t think of any printed maps we would NOT take: the Newberry has one of the finest map collections on this planet, and that 1966 Standard Oil Map of Arkansas might fill a gap in it. We take every audio format I know how to play, and a couple that I don’t. (YES, we take reel-to-reel, cylinders, old iPods, 8-tracks…the only thing I can’t handle are computer downloads. And THAT’S only because we don’t know how to line them up on the bookcase.) We take every video/film format invented so far (even if not one machine to play it is available outside the Smithsonian). We have our doubts about old software, but we give it a good hard look.
We accept posters and prints, though if there’s one thing I hate worse than storing rolled posters it’s storing framed posters. We take photo albums, autograph albums, and, within reason, old unused stationery and greeting cards. We take board games and jigsaw puzzles. We take bookends, music boxes, jewelry boxes, and book safes. (Empty is fine, but filled is more fun.)
We do NOT want any of the above if they happen to be broken beyond use, moldy beyond bearing, missing crucial parts, or otherwise fit for nothing but the garbage.
We do NOT want large furniture (we’ll take a bookstand or two, and those encyclopedias that came with their own bookcases, but we’ve had only one dining room table and THAT took ten years to move), almost any clothing (a collectible T-shirt perhaps), or anything that needs to be watered or fed (we don’t deal in African violets, golden retrievers, or teenagers…and stop offering me your spouses; eBay won’t let me sell ‘em anyhow.)
On a limited basis (did you see that word “limited”? it means “please, cucumber cupcake, try to think of someone else to take it first”) we can use hardware: old typewriters, radios, turntables, cameras…whatsa matter, sirloin dumpling, never heard of eeBay?
I think that’s enough, for starters. I know it doesn’t outline your options as to stencils, cutlery, bumper stickers, vacation slides, bee pollen (what did you think I was going to do with that jar of bee pollen?), neckties with girlie pictures hidden inside, busts of Benjamin Franklin, or telephone pole insulators, but I can’t list everything people call and ask about. (I wonder when the lady’s going to stop by with those arrowheads she said her husband wanted to get rid of.)