Because no one likes to here excuses about why the promised speed cubing post isn’t out yet, quick fire round of the
excuses reasons why there is a filler post today:
- The speed cubing post started to get longer and longer to the point where it really was better off if I split it up into different posts, which requires some editing
- Posts with photos of things just take longer to do and I was out all day at Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden (yup, combined with the LBJ garden reference from the last post and your assumption that I am a massive biology geek is 100% accurate)
- Considering it is 10:30pm right now, there would be no way I would finish it in time, and I’d rather not lose my streak on day 8, especially since I posted a few days ago about how easy it was so far
So instead, you are going to get a filler post of sorts, where I ponder something quite pointless in the hopes of giving “future me” enough time tomorrow to finish it up (or come up with another post on why I’ve delayed it again)
So on to the question…
Why is it so hard to get rid of used textbooks in Hong Kong compared to in the USA?
And I don’t mean that rhetorically either, I am genuinely curious about this, and if any of you have the answer or any theories, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
All the normal places you would think to sell textbooks turn out to be dead ends:
- Websites like Slugbooks or Chegg are USA + Canada based only, and even if they weren’t you run into shipping cost problems
- Amazon forces you to either sell on the Mainland China market (where the demand for English language textbooks is extremely low) or find a way to sell on the USA/Canada one (which while I get past some issues since I’m an American, customs, shipping time problems, and extremely negative opinions on things sold from Asia by some Amazon users make it not worth it). Oh and currency exchange issues as well
- All second hand book stores I’ve checked explicitly ban textbooks (don’t blame them, otherwise there would be no room for anything else)
- Public libraries won’t accept them (same issue as above)
- The various other charities are want textbooks for younger kids, not the Year 12 & 13 books that make up most of the clutter in my room
- No luck with my school’s second hand books facebook page either, everyone already seems to have bought their books new already
So right now I’m flogging them off on Carousell (the Asian equivalent of Cragslist but an app). Several weeks in so far, and still no bites, but we will see…
But I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s so difficult compared to the US.
(Or at least my experience spending a summer selling textbooks online or donating them to the numerous second hand books stores before moving to HK)
Tons of people are selling their books for half the cost of new books in perfect condition, yet no one is buying second hand books for some reason.
Is it just that Hong Kong has more of a throwaway culture compared to Austin?
I’m not so sure. While it is the argument often given time and time again by newspaper opinion pieces, to me it seems unconvincing, as the recent phenomenon of replacing rather than fixing isn’t exclusive to one place.
Perhaps new textbooks are cheaper here, thus there is less of an incentive to buy used?
Possibly, though again, since pretty much all of my textbooks are in English with a international curriculum, the cost should be more or less the same and a quick Amazon scan confirms that theory. While some are indeed cheaper (I’m guessing because the textbook industry here isn’t as powerful as it is in the US, though don’t quote me on that), its still a huge amount of savings buying used compared to buying new.
A question of storage space and convenience?
This is my leading theory, that expensive land prices mean that there is an incentive:
- not to take up space with big bulky second hand textbooks that might never get sold/ get sold for far less than other books that could take up the same
- to just order and have them shipped to the school then placed in a locker, where they never have to take up space at home (until the end of the school year where you fall into the same situation I’m in with a tiny room overflowing with textbooks and no way to get rid of them
Or maybe HKer’s just like new textbooks 😛
I mean you should see how carefully some people wrap their books in plastic and use only sticky notes that won’t mark the pages, being careful not to crease the cover…
then again is an equal amount of people who highlight, annotate, make up and dog ear pages to the point where the book is unrecognizable ala “Half Blood Prince Potions Book” (minus all the magic, then again chemistry might as well be potions considering how little of it I understand at times )
Makes you wonder why there are thousands of books about how to buy things in different places or organise them in your home, but no books on how to get rid of stuff in different cities… maybe increased consumerism is the right answer all along?
Who knows? All I can tell you is that my old textbooks have staged a coup d’etat and invaded large parts of my room, so if anyone has advice on how to fight back against the hoard , I’d love to here it!