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What do you do with your old tech-books?

Your probably know the problem: With every new technology cycle you're buying new books as the old ones become pretty unusable.

For example ASP2 and ASP3 (the same applies for Java 1.2 and Java 1.3 and Java 1.4): My ASP2 books are laying around without being touched for years. It's almost the same with my ASP3 books - I searched for something a few days ago after not touching them for months. And I already see a new book-tide coming (uhm... it's already here): .NET.

Some books are old(er) but they're explaning important things and such as "Essential COM" (Don Box) and I'd like to keep them.

So what do you do with your old tech-books: Can you sell them (where? and who's buying?)? What about recycling? Do you just burn them (polluting the atmosphere)? Or what do you do?

PS: SWEng-books (such as "Mythical-Man-Month") are NOT the kinds of books I write about here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

I just hide them in the place where I don't see them ..

Evgeny Goldin
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

I've got some of them stashed.  I've also collected up large numbers and donated them to the library at my old high school, if they had any residual value.  The day I did that, my dad was there and asked me to wait until he tied a counterweight to the other side of the house so it wouldn't flip over ;)

used books for sale
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

They're on my shelf, silently reminding me what a waste of money some tech books are...

Neil E
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Same goes for me. I have a box with "outdated" books sitting in the closet - the oldest in the heap dating back from the mid eigthies.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Austin has the "Half-Price Books" chain, and occasionally I sell a few books there, although I usually end up buying more books than I sell.

I actually like reading through a lot of older tech books, mostly ones before 1990.  Looking at 72 dpi art from the early Macintosh world has been inspiring for a lot of the mobile device programming I do now, and I love the old "Best of Creative Computing" series; I was fortunate to get a fresh set of these from David Ahl recently in one of his garage auctions.

There are some books that are pretty useless -- it is unlikely that I"ll be referencing the nroff manuals from AT&T System V anytime soon, but I did find old Turbo C manuals useful a few years ago when I was trying to implement a Borland-like console interface for the CodeWarrior Win32 runtime library.

Ben Combee
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Yeah, but there are some tech books that it is kind of cool to have old copies of. I have all 3 editions of Stroustrop on my shelf. It is kind of nice to get a good overview of how the language has developed. Plus there certainly seem to be things in older editions of some textbooks which are not in the newer editions, and can sometimes be useful.

I do have to confess that the 1st Edition of Stroustrop came from my father-in-law's library.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

They just seem to hang around forever. I've got stacks of them in the garage, in the den, in bookshelves, in closets. They tend to hang around in the bathroom (sitting room reading material). I've been at this professionally for 12 years and as a hobby for 8 years prior to that. There are literally hundreds of them laying around. I've never thrown them away. I guess they'll make a good replacement for a cord of firewood one of these cold winters.

What's your oldest? I see a set of DOS 1.2 manuals peeking out from the corner of the bookshelf. That's gotta be, what, about 1982 or so?

Sergent Sausage
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Repurpose them as sound proofing in the house.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, March 5, 2003


Oldest in the heap;

Compute!'s First Book of Atari Graphics  © 1982

The Visible Computer 8088: Assmembly Language Teaching System IBM PC © 1985

Brings back memories :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

If no one wants them from the local tech groups, I throw them away. I tried to recycle them but they were rejected by the newspaper. I tried to sell them to the local used book store but they did not want them. I gave some to the local library, they would only take a few select books. But mostly I toss them in the trash.

One day I was cleaning out my "library" and found magazines from the early 90's, as well as programming books and other stuff. From that day on I have adopted a policy. When I am done with the sitting, while reading a technical magazine, I toss it. That way I do not pile up the information. I have stopped cutting out articles to save, now I just book mark them. When I get the next version of the book I need I toss the old one.

For example I have my original perl cookbook, but I am on the third version of ASP3.0 I do not keep the previous ASP books. Everything in my collection is up-to-date.

I do not keep

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Having chucked out loads of stuff over the last 18 months I have tried to be a lot more descerning in what books I buy. I now avoid anything with a product name in the title and anything by Wrox.

Most of the books in my library now are either from O'Reilly or Addison Wesley, stuff I keep reffering back to.

For transient stuff like ASP or .Net I try and stick to using the web as a reference.

Tony E
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

I keep all my books, no matter how old -- I have a Vax book I bought, and I've never seen a Vax.  My running theory is that when the big one hits, I can be that whizzened old coot who rebuilds the Internet.

Andrew Burton
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

In the past I've donated them to my local public library, which will not shelve them but will sell them and use whatever proceeds they can gain to buy books they really want :-) Also a tax deduction if you itemize, but you ought to be realistic about computing the resale value of outdated titles. (This latter applies to U.S. taxpayers, and the usual "I'm not an accountant, nor do I play one on TV", applies. Consult a real tax advisor.)

Of course, I take care not to give away the books that are old but are true classics -- or that have nostalgia value for me, like some of the manuals for CP/M systems I used to work with in the early 80s.

John C.
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Please recycle.  Throwing books in the trash is rather wasteful, and in most places you can recycle paper.

Andrew Hurst
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

The first pruning generated a lot of chaff, but since then I try to go through my books once a year to get rid of anything I'm not using (most of my VB6 stuff will go next time) - I donate them to the library. By keeping up with it, the stuff I'm giving them is generally sellable or worth putting on their shelves.

And, of course, it's tax deductible. :-)


Philip Janus
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Books are something which I never throwout. I just stack them up...

Prakash S
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

I keep them on the bookshelf. I feel it necessary to confirm the ASCII value for <Return> with 7 different sources before proceeding with my work.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Humm... I bet Martha Stewart could think up some "lovely" and "simple" things to do with them that would only take 487 hours each to complete. Then you can hand them out as Christmas presents.


Wednesday, March 5, 2003

A friend of mine just recently called me to ask what to do with an entire yard of Inside Mac books he had.  I told him to pull out IM VI and use it to prop up his new monitor.  Another use is to keep the thick ones around as instant booster chairs for your kids.  The thin ones are usually worthless, just recycle.

Nick Brosnahan
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Try donating them for book sales

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

When I last moved, I trashed an entire bookshelf of old books, circa 1995-1998.  Back from my client/server GUI days.  Loads of VB3, VB4, Oracle Forms, Powerbuilder and LOADS of magazines. 

It felt great to throw away so much stuff. 

Next time I move, maybe I'll throw away the contents of my 1998-2000 Java bookshelf !

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

I'm not sure this is much better than just trashing them, but I tend to donate them to thrift stores.  They turn around and sell them for something like $0.50, so *someone* might like them, plus I can mark them down on my taxes as charitable contributions...

Chris Palmer
Thursday, March 6, 2003

I keep certain sets of old tech books around just in case I'm called upon to fix some old thing built with them.  An old hypercard book saved my butt once.

So I try to keep around at least representitive technology books at home just in case I need them.

flamebait sr.
Thursday, March 6, 2003

I put mine for sale up on Amazon.  I've probably sold about 20 or so books over the last 2 years and recouped about $300.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

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