'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Diego » July 12th, 2018, 1:51 pm

Recently, I saw a movie, "Nostalgia", which themes touch upon the subject of this thread. The movie has an impressive cast, (Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn, among others) and is very well written and acted.

Not an upbeat, feel-good movie for a Saturday night out, it has a lot of awful truth, that is difficult to avoid...thought provoking, sad, real.

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby AJM » July 12th, 2018, 4:57 pm

I saw Nostalgia a few years back and enjoyed it and caught up with it again recently but didn’t enjoy it so much second time around.

I suppose that proves that Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be...

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Diego » July 12th, 2018, 10:58 pm

The movie I'm referring to, came out just 2-3 months ago. Was it the same movie?

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Jack Shalom » July 13th, 2018, 2:06 am

I asked Copperfield about arrangements for his collection after he passed. He gave a short vague non-answer and quickly changed the subject. I then asked one of his right -hand assistants the same question, and he said he didn't know what, if any, arrangements had been made.

I interpret those replies as "none of your business."

I can think of several very good reasons he would not want his plans to be public. I feel certain, though, that he has a well thought out plan.

Edward Pungot
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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Edward Pungot » July 13th, 2018, 3:34 am

We are hunters and gathers.
All this stuff is an extension of this drive and our brain's ability to catalog, edit, and expand.

It's ironic that we start and end with nothing. But in between there is much joy in the pursuit, acquisition, devouring, assimilation and eventual letting go.

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Bill Mullins » November 19th, 2018, 1:36 pm

The following is by a British bookseller from another forum. With his permission, I'm reposting here.

Re: Disposal of Collections
Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:39 am (PST) . Posted by: simonjpatterson

We try to specialise in rare and valuable titles in speculative fiction. We do have plenty of books around the £25-£75 mark, as these inevitably come in with large groups of books, and they're good and quick sellers (often), but our interest though is in titles £100+. This isn't us being elitist, it's simply how our business model works (storage, time, buyers, personal interest, free bloody shipping).

Our buying habits are therefore selective too. Here are a few examples of large SF collections we've purchased recently:

1. A collection of 2500 books. 1000 of these books were good - £25 and above. Whilst it's not rare to see so many good books it's rare to see a proportion of higher quality items. This was four years ago, we have sold maybe 75% of the 1000. The remaining 1500 went to another dealer I know for something like 25p a volume.

2. A collection of 1800 books, half of them PBs. There were around 150 hardbacks that worked for our stock. The remaining 750 or so hardbacks went to a local bookseller. The 900 PBs sat in boxes for two years as many I wanted for reading copies. I ended up keeping a good portion of them, the rest went on eBay in bulk and fetched next to nothing.

3. A collection of around 5000 books. The vast majority reading copies. I think we purchased around 400 of the books - essentially cherry picking. Of those 400 fewer than 50 were suitable for stock. 100 were SF reference / NF / Critique which we kept, the other 250 were PBs we kept for reading. The remaining 4600 the owner sold to a local bookseller. This was a situation where we wouldn't have taken the 5000 books, just to dump 4600 on another bookseller's doorstep. The logistics would not have been viable and the 50 books we ‘needed’ weren’t good enough to encourage the removal.

4. A collection of 1200 books that had been consigned to us. Long story short, around 900 of the books were offered on various eBay auctions at the request of the consignor - not the best way to dispose of books. I would estimate 5% exceeded the price I would've asked, 60% of the books achieved around 60-80% of their value, 20% achieved around 30-60% of their value. The remaining 15% achieved less than 30% of their value.

5. A collection of Centipede Press books. We assessed the value of each book and offered accordingly. These collections are our favourite, but also the least frequently found.

As to selling channels.

1. ABEBooks and Biblio - both decent enough sites, the former more so than the latter. It's a decent enough way to dispose of a collection. But, you have to be aware that if you have 1000 books to sell, then you have 1000 books to catalogue, photograph, answer queries on and pack and post. It will also take a good five years to sell even if you offer everything very cheaply. I know collectors who do this, and enjoy it. But, the important thing to remember is that the best stuff will sell, if priced right, quite quickly. After that stuff’s sold, even if the stuff remaining is decent stuff, it simply won’t sell well as a collection if that route is chosen later. We had a collection offered recently, where it had clearly been pored over by another dealer. There were clear gaps, and a distinct lack of decent titles.

2. eBay - we started on eBay 16 years ago. We stopped selling there four months ago. The site's a nightmare. I would not recommend anyone sell on there. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have had a good eBay selling experience, but for us it has deteriorated year after year. Sales throughput has always been good and we have made decent money from eBay, but their habit of restricting sellers and forcing particular selling practices has been enough to stop us from selling with them.

3. Auctions. Sotheby's and Christie's want books £1000 and above. If you have an exceptional collection, let's say £1m+, then they might take it assuming the average value is well above £1000 per book. If there are books around £100 or so, and you can persuade them to take them, they'll group them in job lots of say 25 books. You would have to have a fair few five figure books too.

Mid-range aucitoneers such as Swann, HA, PBA, Forum (I won't dare say Bloomsbury) are more entertaining to high-quality (rather than exceptional) collections. Again, though <£50 books will be grouped. There was an auction at Swann just this week, with Stanley Simon books - clearly a good portion was going to the public as the prices were frequently too high for dealers (I bought one book). This is suggestive of a good result. The reality is though, that very few sold for what one could call a retail price. Most were 50-80% of retail, before the seller's premium. An important caveat here though is that you generally have to have enough books in the auction to reach a critical mass without which the books will just get lost. This is why we no longer dump old / excess stock at auction. The last result we got was a book we'd had previously on our site at £750. We reduced it to £500 and then decided just to auction it. Other copies were available for sale £500+, but our copy was inscribed. It fetched £15 at auction. It was poorly catalogued, but [censored] the bed, £15!

4. Consigning with a dealer. If you can find a dealer to take a consignment, then it's a very viable method. The collector does little work, and receives typically 65-70% of value. A consignee will take somewhere around 20% (though I know dealers who take 50% of books below $100). There are expenses such as card processing, online fees (ABEBooks), trade discounts etc. It's rare that a bookseller gets £100 for a £100 book.

5. Selling to a dealer. This is obviously the route that we would like every collector to take, but it's not always viable. The two things to consider are a) which books the dealer will buy and b) how much they will pay. Dealers may cherry-pick the best books, or offer you a fixed price per volume. They will pay anywhere between 40% and 70% of value. Generally in the middle of that range. We often get people offering us a £100 for an £80 book. This simply isn't feasible. £20 could easily get taken off in costs. It could get taken in one fell swoop if someone in the trade buys the book.

Selling to dealers is often met with consternation and distrust. This is partly because there are bad seeds, partly because of the seemingly large premium added on, and partly because collectors feel they aren't getting the true value (they're not). By way of an example, I'll recount a conversation I had recently with a client. I'd sold him a book in 2017 for £650. He emailed asking if I wanted to buy it back. I said, yes and offered him £350. He replied saying he wanted more than he paid for it; "it was an investment". I told him that was not feasible.. He asked how he could make a profit on it. I pointed out that in my role as a professional bookseller with a good reputation, solid client list and a couple of decades' experience, the best I got for it was £650 and that took me two years. The moral is that books are collected for love not for investment. A good collection will be an investment, but it takes decades.

6. Donate. This is clearly the most magnanimous way to pass on a collection (though the magnanimity is often reduced when the requirement is that a building is named after the donator). The important thing here is picking the right institution or charity. Of course, the downsides are that the collector or their family will not benefit. If you have heirs or an overdraft, then you’d have a difficult time making that decision.

Ultimately, it comes down to the kind of collection. There are collectors I know who will not entertain a book under £200. There are collectors who want completion regardless of condition or value. There are collectors who have amassed thousands of books over several decades, a small portion of which are valuable, but a small portion of thousands of books is a good number of books. Seek advice from a number of dealers. Another little anecdote that I can add here involves a copy of Dune we were offered recently. Dune was key to our most recent catalogue, but we couldn’t find it at a decent price. A lovely copy was offered out of the blue. We offered $2500 for it, they were unsure so we asked what other offers they had received. They’d had an offer of $3500. The difference in our offers, I explained, was due to the other dealer having a very wealthy client base and thus offered books for more than we usually would. They also had an offer of $200 from a dealer. That offer was increased to $1000, payment was to be 30 days after receipt and was only valid for 24 hours. I guessed, correctly, who that was and suggested she tell him to [censored] right off. The point is, she needed advice. Had she not sought three offers, she’d have been worse off. The argument here is that if she’d only contacted me she would still have been worse off – and this is the salient point – it all comes down to effort; if she’d established a rare book firm 20 years earlier, and sold the book herself for $7000 she’d have been much better off.

The key is to compare your collection to that of the chosen dispersal method. Get a rough valuation and establish how much of that value you want to receive.

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Diego » November 19th, 2018, 7:34 pm

Thanks Bill for sharing this. Good, honest advice, learned from real experience.

I recently thought of the subject of this thread when I went to a Washington, D.C., army retirement home, where my uncle had been staying and recently passed away. Being his POA and agent of his estate, I began the task of sorting out, his personal belongings, as well as his legal/financial affairs.

With declining health, and needing to be in the right care facility, he sold his house and loaded what he wanted to keep, in the back of his care and trunk, (no u-haul) left everything else in his house for the new owner to deal with, and drove to the retirement home. EVERYTHING he had when I arrived, was in his room. A good deal of his books, gadgets, and other things, had been sold, donated, given, and yes, stolen
over the years.
As I went thru piles of boxes, I looked at things that were important to him, (that's why they were still there) and had to ask: If I take that ____, back home, where would I keep it, do with it?...when I'm gone, would anyone in my family else want it? Photos of people I had no idea who they were, and no one living who could identify any of them?
(Easier was donating clothes, electronics, and power chair, etc. to be used by other residents who couldn't afford them.)
I was glad to find and preserve his medals, commendations and other items pertaining to his life and service.
But I couldn't help but wonder if he had a lot of magic stuff, and some clueless person looked at "that stuff" and discarded it as I was, discarding items of no interest, identity, or value, that I had to, already having downsized my own stuff back home the year before.

Most of us have been there, done that, what I've described above. When I left my uncle's now-empty room for the last time, to go home,
much of what has been discussed in this thread, came to the front.

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby chetday » November 20th, 2018, 3:08 pm

Bill, thanks for posting that extremely informative article written by the British bookseller.

Now that I'm stumbling my way into my 70's, though still healthy, I find myself on occasion pondering what to do with not only my personal collection of magic books but also the hundreds of non-magic books my wife and I have purchased, read, and hoarded during our lives. Last year on a gloomy winter day when I imagined the Grim Reaper looking over my shoulder, I called the local library and asked if I could donate several hundred hardback and paperback novels, as well as a fairly serious collection of critical studies devoted to both English and American literature. Although the head librarian didn't laugh at my offer, I could see I'd asked a dumb question because she politely declined accepting any of the books "other than unblemished hardback copies of best selling novels." Since I didn't have any hardback best sellers, I asked her what most people do with large book collections they won't need in the grave. She suggested trying Goodwill or the Salvation Army. "It's hard to get rid of books these days," she told me.

I'm hopeful my grandson will get interested enough in magic so I can give him my wonderful collection of magic books, but these days his major obsessions involve karate and football cards. And all too soon, Lord help him, he'll no doubt be thinking about girls a whole lot more than mastering a decent double lift.

I'd naively thought that the day might come when I'd try to sell a lot of our books on eBay, but I too have soured on that outlet and the article that Bill posted put the final nail in the coffin of eBay as a money-maker.

Getting old really is a pain in the ass in a lot of respects, and I hate the thought of not being able to take my magic books with me into the Great Beyond.

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby MagicbyAlfred » November 22nd, 2018, 9:46 am

Chetday Wrote: "I'm hopeful my grandson will get interested enough in magic so I can give him my wonderful collection of magic...And all too soon, Lord help him, he'll no doubt be thinking about girls a whole lot more than mastering a decent double lift."

And thank the Lord for that.

"Getting old really is a pain in the ass in a lot of respects, and I hate the thought of not being able to take my magic books with me into the Great Beyond."

My philosophy: If you can't take it with you, don't go...

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Re: 'I never saw a U-Haul following a hearse."

Postby Joe Lyons » November 28th, 2018, 8:10 am

Not having the resources of a Copperfield or an Albo, I wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t sell my current collection and purchase one item at a time. I could then, after reading the book or studying the apparatus, take a photo and add it to an album and consider that my collection.
It would enable me to “own” many more items in my lifetime and solve the problem for my heirs.

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