Spring cleaning – what to do with your old books

Originally uploaded by Mistress B

In Japan, the days leading up to New Year’s Day are the time for spring cleaning. We had two guests for New Year, so we did quite a bit of “spring cleaning”. We also threw away a lot of old things that were just taking up space.

I have a lot of books. Some of them I no longer want. They are mostly in good condition. It seems a shame to just throw them in the garbage.

I tried re-selling them on Amazon. You need to register as a seller, but once that is done, the process is fairly simple (but not VERY simple – I had to get my sons to help me read the Japanese instructions from time to time). Yes, I sell on Amazon Japan. Why? Because Japan is where my bank account is. To sell on Amazon UK (for instance), I need a UK bank account, which I don’t have.

I started selling books on Amazon over 9 months ago. How’s buiness? Slow! Nothing happened until last month when suddenly 2 people bought a couple of my books. I was selling English books, not Japanese books, and this is Japan, not England, so …

What alternatives are there to re-selling your old books on Amazon? One alternative is to give your books away. A Google search found these two online book-exchange sites:

  1. みんなの物々交換
  2. Bookmooch

They both seem to work the same way:

  • You list the books (or CDs or whatever) that you want to give away,
  • and you also list the books or CDs that you want,
  • and the website searches its customer database to find someone who wants what you are giving away,
  • and someone who is giving away what you are looking for.

Bookmooch is international and works in English, which is easier for me, so I have been using that. It works on a point system. When you offer a book, you get 0.1 points. When you send a book to someone not in your country, you get 2 points. You can then use those points to “buy” books that you want on Bookmooch.

I offered 10 books, and I got 6 requests in just a few days. Most of the books I am selling are not popular books, so I was impressed. Although I am giving the books away and in addition I must pay for postage, I have been enjoying getting rid of my books in this fashion. As the Japanese say すっきりします!

I can also use Bookmooch to request books that I want. Instead of paying for them with money, I “pay” for them using my Bookmooch points. I just asked Bookmooch if any Bookmooch member is giving away “Wind, Sand and Stars”, but unfortunately not.

Do you have a good way to get rid of your unwanted books, or to buy books cheaply?

Bookmooch - click on the image to visit Bookmooch
Bookmooch - click on the image to visit Bookmooch

5 thoughts on “Spring cleaning – what to do with your old books”

  1. It is chilly enough out of house,yet I feel glimmer of spring in sunshine.
    I learnt that spring-cleaning was regardless of season, while I think it makes sense to do it when spring has come, because the sun in spring shows up any dust in a room even it is not so messy.
    I’ve read about housewives who live in the countries on high altitude start to change curtain saying “Let’s bring spring in this room.”

  2. Spring-cleaning is a good chance to feel new, and to make more space, too. My family and I have lots of things: books, CDs, documents, dishes, clothing, and they all occupy a large space in each room, and I am frequently (though not always) complaining about it. I want to throw out unnecessary things, but I dare not. It is difficult to choose what to throw out among many things. And there are so remembrances attached to those things.
    By the way, though I am embarrassed to tell you this, actually, when I was doing spring-cleaning last December 9th, cleaning the ceiling of the kitchen, I was standing on the chair and I carelessly I fell down from the chair and hit my chest on the back rest very strongly and four ribs of right side were broken and the area around the lung was affected. The doctor said, “The New Year will come, eve without spring cleaning so spend it meekly doing nothing.” And so I did not do spring-cleaning last year. I have spent many hours being inactive and endured it for about a month or so. Thanks to my family’s help, my condition is getting better and better day by day.

    Everyone , please take care.


  3. So, is the once-a-year large-scale cleaning called spring-cleaning regardless of season? Yes, although of course it was traditionally done in the spring.

    Come to think of it that New Year is called 新春, it’s no wonder to call year-end cleaning as spring-cleaning, although my image of spring-cleaning is not shivering in the cold wih windows wide open.
    But wasn’t the Japanese New Year originally according to the lunar calendar? That would put it in February/March, which is much closer to spring than Jan. 1st.

    got 沈黙の惑星を離れて for only 1 yen plus delivery fee. What a bargain!
    On Amazon??!! A bargain, indeed! I have never seen a 2nd-hand book sold for so little on Amazon (on Yahoo! Auction, yes, but it is probably easier to sell books on Amazon Japan).

    1. You are right, calling New Year as New Spring is the remnant of old lunar calendar. Thanks for reminding me of that. I was forgetting it when I wrote. Chinese people still celebrate New Year (春節) of lunar calendar.

  4. I consulted 大掃除 in Japanese-English dictionary, and found “spring-cleaning”. So, is the once-a-year large-scale cleaning called spring-cleaning regardless of season? Come to think of it, New Year is called 新春, so it’s no wonder year-end cleaning is called spring-cleaning, although my image of spring-cleaning is not shivering in the cold wih windows wide open.

    Dust and junks accumulate while living: we need to clear up the house and unnecessary things and feel すっきり, but books are not junk and I still keep most of them in the storage. I donated some of children’s books to the nearby elementary school’s “class library” (学級文庫). My daughter has sold unnecessary books and CDs to Book-Off”. I don’t know about it so far and am not sure about English books. Recently I often borrow books from library so as not to increase my personal belongings. Once in a while, I buy used books at Amazon when I need a work of translation to our book of IRG. I got 沈黙の惑星を離れて for only 1 yen plus delivery fee. What a bargain!


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