Frequently Asked Questions
Seeking to Buy
Help! Can't Find...
Selling My Books
Please read these pages before you contact me with questions.
This is a compilation of actual questions I've been asked and my answers.
If your question is already here,
I'll just be e-mailing you the answer from here.
Seeking to Buy
I found you thru a search engine. Do you have ----------- by -------------- in paperback?
If so, please let me know the cost...Thanks so much...
I do not sell books, I just list places where you can buy books. Read the document on my website, which is a list of book stores and book sales around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If you prefer to buy online, have you tried http://www.half.com/? or http://www.alibris.com/? Amazon? eBay?
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I am trying to find a place to donate my old college books or at least recycle them. The books are now out of date, considering that I graduated from college almost 10 years ago.
If you have books that are not textbooks -- a novel by Dickens as opposed to a textbook on Victorian Literature 101 -- you may find a place to donate them. Textbooks, however, are a drug on the market unless they are currently in use at the schools, which yours would not be. Even groups that send books to developing countries don't want old textbooks, since publishers have begun donating up-to-date things and can supply enough books for an entire class. We use textbooks at my local library as construction material -- propping up corners of sagging shelves, etc. Some municipalities are beginning to recycle books as raw material; check with your local sanitation department (see "Recycling", below).
If you got my name from my website, http://www.pittsburghusedbooks.com/, then you know the SaleList there has contact information for booksellers and libraries, but I doubt they will have any better news for you about textbooks. You should also read "How to Donate Books", which is near the end of the SaleList.
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Wondering if there is a place nearby where we can donate magazines that we are done with?
That's a tough one. There are a lot of magazines in the world and most library and charity sales don't want to bother with them
-- they are physically difficult to deal with -- heavy, hard to stack because they slide, easily ripped -- and people don't want to pay much for them. If you come up with any ideas or solutions from anywhere else, I'd love to hear about them. Some ideas:
People who collect for literacy projects in other countries have problems with shipping magazines because of the weight. One I checked into, Brother's Brother, is a Pittsburgh-based outfit that has a website, where they say that they have stopped collecting used reading matter because publishers have begun to give them new stuff. Their website does say that their "customers" are still asking for used National Geographic magazines and nursing journals or medical journals. I think, though, that they mean professional journals read by nurses and doctors, not health magazines aimed at the general public.
On November 10, 2007 I received an e-mail with a good suggestion. This would work for any type of magazine at all since the clientele would be so varied (and so desperate to have something to occupy their minds) :
I take magazines to the local hospital emergency waiting room. Last time I went on a Sunday evening after clearing them out of the office/waiting area of my business, the emergency room was full [every seat taken] and not one magazine was to be found. People just came looking after I deposited several short stacks here and there on the tables. The wait can be so long [hours] that they are very much appreciated, according to the intake people.
Judy, Washington State
If you have very upscale magazines about art, architecture, etc., a bookstore might take them. Comics or counter-culture publications might interest Duncan Comics or Eide's. Look at my SaleList on www.pittsburghusedbooks.com, at the section on Used Book Stores.
You could ask any of the libraries in the Ongoing Sale section of the SaleList if they are interested in the specific magazines you have.
Teachers used to want magazines that younger kids could cut things out of; you might enquire at schools or day care places.
If you live near a school with a library, and you read your magazines as soon as they are published, they might like to have each copy passed on to them as soon as you read it.
You could ask your doctor, dentist, etc. -- anybody with a waiting room.
There are a bunch of Pittsburgh websites that run free ads; if you have many issues of a specific magazine you might want to offer them there. Check the Sites of Interest at the beginning of this document.
There is a movement to leave paperback books in public places with notices on them that they are free. There is a website to track the individual books and see where they end up. Maybe it could be done with magazines. I have only encountered one such book, but it was donated to our local library's book sale, not left somewhere interesting. Perhaps the rest of the country is leaving books all over the place but Pittsburgh, as always, is 5 years behind.
The shop where I get my hair cut has shelves and baskets for paperbacks and magazines people can bring in or take away. Any place that had space and was willing to do it -- schools, churches, businesses, gyms, restaurants -- could do the same, but people might bring a lot of garbage that would have to be weeded out and gotten rid of, so I can't see a lot of organizations doing this. If you belong to a ladies' club or a church group or something like that, though, you might see if they like the idea.
If you live in Pittsburgh, you can take magazines and catalogs to the recycling centers; of course, that's just recycling the paper, not reusing the magazines for what they were created for. See "Recycling", below.
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We have about 800 record albums to get rid of. Who might want them?
Most old records are ignored at library sales; at my local library we put them in the Free Box as soon as we get them, unless they seem special. Then we
take them to Jerry:
Jerry's Records, 2136 Murray Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 "10,000 square feet of vinyl"
Phone: 412-421-4533 Fax: 412-421-2728 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attic Record Store, 513 Grant Ave. Millvale, Pittsburgh, PA 15209
Phone: (412)821-8484 Fax: (412) 821-5179 E-mail: email@example.com.
I searched the Internet and I got the impression that the sellers agree with this one:
"We are in constant need of records and will travel anywhere given sufficient quantity and quality.
Because we often travel to buy records in person, we're generally interested in collections of 1000 pieces or larger. Exceptions do apply, particularly if you have a smaller number of rarer records.
"We require top condition, interesting titles in most genres. If you have a collection you’d like to sell, let us know the quantity, musical categories (most types of pre’85 music are of interest), source ("My relative was in the record business in 1958/68, etc" is always a good start!), and where you are located.
We DON’T need 78s, or very common LPs and 45s (the biggest hits of their era) in average condition."
Companies that gave instructions about how to sell to them had 3 methods to suggest:
(1) "bring the records in to us"
(2) "mail materials to us and we'll pay you 'a fair price'"
(3) "send us a list of all titles with specific information on each one: artist, dates, record label, price you want, etc."
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Help! Can't Find...
I need a textbook for my class. Now. The local college bookstores don't have it. I don't have time to wait for it to be shipped from an online source like amazon, half.com, e-bay, etc. My local library doesn't have it in their system's catalog and I can't wait for an interlibrary loan to arrive.
Go to Google and choose Advanced Search, put the author's last name in "all these words" and the title in "exact phrase". Hit enter and look for a sponsored link for www.ichapters.com. This site sells entire books as either Text or eBook at a discount, or you can buy any chapter you need. The table of contents and first chapter are free online.
Is it possible to do a Pittsburgh search for a 1964 Peabody High School Yearbook? I threw mine away a long time ago and would like one again.
Your best bet would be to go on www.craigslist.com and choose Pittsburgh, then go to "wanted" and enter a request.
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Selling My Books
My brother … collected hardcover books and passed away …. most are new and many are collector's editions, since he knew what he was buying. We wanted to donate them to a library in his name, and thought there could be a plaque or something honoring him. I guess I was a little naive, since basically I was told that they would end up selling them for cash anyway.
Yes, according to the librarian at our local branch, the costs of cataloging and prepping a book for lending are prohibitive; if they buy the book from the publisher (at a large discount) they get the work done for them for free. Since the publishers all started doing that, she has stopped checking the donations for books for the library's collection. So now if we get in something especially new-looking, we (the Friends of the Library used book sale committee) save it and sell it ourselves at a special Holiday Shopping sale in November. We are considering starting to sell on e-Bay, but haven't had the time.
I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what to do with them. We would like to hire a book expert to determine their general value, and possibly sell them as a lot.
There are a number of book dealers listed at the end of the SaleList. Some of them will come to give you a free estimate or buy some of the books, but of course any advice they give may be suspect because of their hope to make some money themselves. Esther Tucker, who with her husband ran Tucker Books on Murray Avenue for many years, is now retired from selling. She still does an occasional appraisal, however, for an hourly fee. She says:
"The time involved would depend on what the guy ultimately decides to do with the books, whether he wants a
detailed appraisal for estate purposes, or whether he just wants to know which books are valuable and which
aren't, and how to best dispose of the lot."
She is at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 412-521-2267.
There is also the option to donate all or some of the books to a charity and take a tax deduction of the "fair market value" of the books. If you decide to do that, the Friends of the Squirrel Hill Library would be happy to accept them (particularly if you could time your donation for shortly before we are having one of our major sales, so we wouldn't have to find storage room for the books!).
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Can I take a tax deduction for books I donate?
Yes, when you donate to a library or other charitable organization; you report the dollar value with your other charitable donations on Schedule A of your federal return. Ask the organization for a receipt. Here is how it works at my local library:
We provide a signed receipt on our letterhead, with space for you to fill in the quantities and value of various categories of donations. We do not put a value on your donations; the IRS says you must do that yourself. When I donate books to our sales, I rate the hardcovers at $2, trade (oversized) paperbacks at $1, and mass-market paperbacks at $.50, because that is what we sell them for. If the books are in like-new condition, we can sell them at the holiday sale and then the deduction is $3/$1.50/$1. For some special books, usually art books or coffee-table books, we charge $4 or $5.
Count and record your donation as you are packing it; the library probably has no space for you to do it there. And as you pack, take the opportunity to make sure all the books are worth the effort. See How to Donate Books at the end of the SaleList. The tax regulations were amended for 2006 returns to require that any donated articles you claim must be in good condition.
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I am trying to find a place to recycle some old books that nobody wants to buy or accept as a donation. How do I keep them out of the landfill?
Check with your local governing body's Sanitation Department. Some municipalities let you toss paperbacks in with miscellaneous paper and will let you recycle the pages of hardcovers after you cut the covers off with a utility knife.
Pittsburgh is currently recycling hardcover books (with their covers left on) but not paperbacks!
Journal of Athletic Training 1998-2000
Before 2008, you could not leave books or magazines out at the curb on trash day with the newspapers and cans and bottles. They had to be taken to one of the recycling lots around town, which have dumpsters labeled for everything mentioned here, plus: cardboard boxes (big cartons); paperboard (cereal boxes, milk cartons, etc.); phone books; junk mail and colored paper; and white "office" paper.
As of January 1, 2008, a pilot program began in the Eastern and Central divisions to collect these items at the curb on the same days (every other week) as the cans, bottles, and newspapers. There are rules for each category about how to bag or tie them; except for the cardboard, which must be tied in bundles with string, anything, including hardcover books, can be put in the blue bags with the cans and bottles. As of 4/22/08, when I checked http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/pw for details, the Public Works website didn't seem to know about the pilot program. Call 412-255-2790 before 4 pm.
Of course, we only recycle hardcover books that can find no other home!
I have the following publications and wondered if you have use for them or can give them a good home:
The Physician and Sports Medicine 1995-2001
I don't buy or sell books or magazines; I only provide a list of library book sales and used book stores around Pittsburgh. I don't personally know how to find a good home for something like this. Have you tried inquiring of local schools that teach the subject, or professional associations in the field? Have you put a free ad on craigslist.com? or freecycle? See also the FAQ page on my website -- http://www.pittsburghusedbooks.com/ -- the question about Magazines -- and the comment about the local philanthropic group Brothers' Brother. Perhaps these fall under the classification of magazines that are requested by their clients in other countries.
Please contact me if you have a question that is not answered here.
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last revised: 04/25/08