Day 8 – Filler post: Why is it so hard to get rid of textbooks in HK?

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 )

But yeah..

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!

Rebecca

 

Day 7- Blossom: A rose by any other name

Originally I had planned to carry on from yesterday’s post with a post about the world of speed cubing but this prompt was so good I couldn’t pass it up (due to timezone it is technically the June 17 one but whatever). Indulge a novice blogger will you?

Daily Post Prompt Here


Blossom.

Such a simple word that evokes such differing thoughts depending on how it is interpreted by an outside observer.

As a floral emblem or symbol of location?

It reminds me of bluebonnets, Texas’s state flower, that dotted the Austin highways in numbers that seemed magical to the little eyes of a young girl and the LBJ wildflower center alongside the red Indian paintbrushes, pink-purple cone flowers and bright yellow sunflowers at a place lovingly nicknamed “ 我們家第二個後花園”(our home’s second back garden)

Or perhaps the Bauhinia orchid tree with its pink blossoms, the emblem of Hong Kong, where I moved to and currently live, that lovingly adorns the city’s flag and coins. Its the name of the hotel we first stayed at when we moved and one stood guard near the bus stop I got off at to go to school every morning in secondary.

Blossom 1
Image Source (Clockwise from left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 56

How about in creating nostalgia?

I remember my childhood home’s garden, with its the sweet smell of jasmine flowers planted near the trash can and recycle bin to mask any foul odors.

Or the tiger lillys, whose dried stalks made for excellent sword fighting material against my little brother ( they snap more easily then twigs or sticks so they ).

The dandilions that I used to mess with on my walk home from elementary school with my brother (before our mother scolded us for it, since it meant more weeding work in the hot sun for someone).

The tiny orchid that my mom gave me for my birthday when we first moved to Hong Kong (which I accidentally killed, because unlike my mom, I do not have a green thumb at all)

Blossom 2
Image source (Anti-clockwise from top): 12, 34

What about as metaphor for historic moments of protest?

More recently, with the yellow umbrella’s blossoming in the face of adversary as thousands of people (including myself) gathered on the streets of Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution/ Occupy Central with Love and Peace (sounds better in Chinese: 和平佔中) to call for true universal suffrage and protest Beijing’s influence in Hong Kong elections

And in the past, with Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campagin which called for a hundred flowers to blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend. (You know, right before he cracked down on anyone who was outspoken against the regieme with the Anti-rightist Campaign)

How about blossom in the purest form the biological and botanical?

With the study of different phylums of plants, and how even though flowering plants may all fall under Angiosperms, they are still incredibly diverse with over several hundred thousand species of monocots, eudicots, basal plants etc, with many not just being important for their looks, but for their medicinal, ecological, economic, nutritional etc uses as well

Blossom 3
Image source (Anticlockwise starting from top left):123

So..

What’s in a name?

Does it matter if we call a blossom 茉莉花, Jasminum officinale or its by common name, Jasmine? 蘭花, Orchidaceae or Orchids?

No.

We are the ones who give the blossom’s their meaning, not an arbitrary number of character strokes or squiggles placed in a specific order. A flower holds in itself a certain beuty that we ourselves associate with a story, a message, a tale.

Why?

Because “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II [1]


And with that final quote from Shakespeare, I leave you dear readers – all 9 of you guys at time of writing

(thanks by the way, really appreciate it, though not really sure why you are following a blog that has neither rhyme nor reason to the content it posts).

Until tomorrow!

Rebecca