My husband and I were in bed the other night, watching another enthralling episode of Storage Wars–yes, I watch such reality tv once in a while, and I happen to agree with someone else who said they watched it and could not figure out why they liked it so much–when one of the buyers came across some old books. I was busy chuckling as the appraiser to whom he took the books started pulling out old textbooks from the early 1900s and telling the guy they were worthless. Duh, was my first response. I don’t think there is much of a market for outdated college Biology books, but maybe that’s just me. I suppose if someone wanted to decorate an office with books they have never read and never intend to read, then that would work, but people like that annoy me.
As the appraiser continues through the box, he’s totalled about $14 worth of books. Then he comes across a book identical to one which I picked up at a Nampa used book store for $9.99. A First Edition A Farewell to Arms. No sleeve or signature, but still a first edition. The value? About $200. This was kind of like an Antiques Roadshow moment for me, so I turned to my husband–who hates when I “collect” things–and said, “See? That’s the same exact book I have!” Without even batting an eye he replied, “Then why don’t you go sell it?” I’d only thought of selling the book back when I first bought it a few years ago, but how could I give up such a find, especially when it’s one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors?
So this had me thinking of the real price we put on books–those meant to educate, entertain, or question the status quo. There is such power in words that cannot be fully explained unless you have truly experienced reading or writing something which has changed a bit of your self. That is the true value of the written word.