Saturday, October 16, 2004

Mint Condition

CONTINUED FROM Used Books

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campbell on my shelf, click for larger imageMy book collection makes me feel good. I like looking at my bookshelf, books lined up like soldiers at attention, pages crisp and tight like Joan Rivers' face.

I like keeping my books in perfect shape. I have books that are in near mint condition, binding unbroken, like a Catholic virgin with hymen intact, subjected only to furtive gropes and clothes-on climaxes.

I have mastered the skill of reading a book opened only to a narrow 30 degree angle so as to preserve the integrity of the binding. I wash my hands with warm sudsy water to carefully remove all grime and oil and dry them completely before touching a page.

This is common practice among comic book collectors, where the term 'mint' has seven grade levels including that sought after, fresh-off-the-printers bagged-in-mylar pristine-mint condition. It is amazing what adolescents who don’t have dates on a Friday night will think of. I just hope they don't get together under one roof, possibly in superhero attire, set up booths, and invite comic book creators to sign stuff.

But I admit it, while I mostly have outgrown my comic book geekdom, I usually still have the eBay selling value of an item in the back of my mind. My comic books, action figures, pez dispensers--they are still carefully handled and stored to preserve maximum value.

This behavior has spread to other aspects of my life where I will consider whether I should open a cereal box carefully in case I want to sell it to a collector at some point. You may scorn Britney Spears now, but her image on a Special K box or a Do-It-Yourself Pre-Nuptial Agreement could net some big bucks someday in an online auction, possibly five dollars.

I am not sure why I do this because I have yet to sell anything anything on eBay. I have bought hundreds of dollars worth of shit, but I have so far sold nada.

I tried selling my used underwear on eBay once for $10 a piece, but nobody wanted to buy them. One person finally asked me if they were 'stained.' I was indignant. What kind of person did he think I was, I thought, and is he willing to pay $20? Anyway, it's not the kind of thing I would tell me Mum. She might start selling her dirty panties.

It’s amazing what people will pay for a bit of nostalgia but I am not planning my retirement on it. Besides, a book isn’t going to keep you warm at night, unless you burn it in your fireplace. A good hairpiece may be a better investment.

Whenever I see a gap between the books on my shelf, I feel an absurd sense of loss. I rarely lend out my favorite books, and when I do, I usually require a signed contract for its replacement if it slips one grade condition level.

It's a quandary: you want to brag about your collection, but you're afraid to because somebody might want to borrow it.

Sometimes I do think about what would happen to my collection if I were to suddenly go on a "permanent vacation." Would they end up in a garage sale? Maybe someone will buy one of them. It would be read, enjoyed, passed on to friends, without a thought to condition, only to sharing the wonderful experience of reading a good book.

More likely, somebody will buy the books and give no thought to its previous owner, one who kept them pristine, who spent more time keeping them that way than reading them...

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