It’s surprisingly hard to get rid of old books. I should know – I sell them for a living. The books I sell are rare first editions, often inscribed, sometimes of considerable historical or literary significance. A question I’m often asked is how I can bear to let these treasures go. There’s no difficulty at all. I’ve had my fun handling them in the shop. After a while, it’s a relief to see the back of them. And a financial necessity, or else I’d need to seek a new line of work.
Even people who don’t sell books for a living find it tricky to shift them. A friend of mine who wanted to relieve her sagging bookshelves downloaded a new app that scanned the ISBNs on her surplus paperbacks and told her which titles were desirable. All she had to do was pack up the saleable ones; a courier company would collect. She was paid £13 for a whole day’s strenuous work. At least she managed to clear space for more books.
In the past, she could have rung a second-hand bookshop, read out her most tempting titles over the phone, and waited for someone to make a