gift card maximization

I have rules about buying books: I’m not allowed to buy books, I’m not allowed to buy books for more than $5, I’m not allowed to buy books for more than $5 unless they’re from a small press, I’m not allowed to buy books for over $5 from a major press unless I’m going to read them immediately.

My bookshelf looks like this, only less blurry:

blurry bookshelfI’ve read, generously, 75% of the books in it. So the book-buying rules are an attempt to increase that percentage.

But my ex-boss likes to go through her wallet over drinks, during which we discovered that she had gift cards she’d been carrying around for months. I’m unclear on why she didn’t use them, even after asking, but since they soon became my gift cards, I didn’t press. (I don’t give Borders or Barnes & Noble my money. When they already have somebody else’s money, I’m less scrupulous.)

It took about an hour per card coming up with the perfect combination to bring me within a dollar of $25, but it was totally worth it. B&N will let you buy used with a gift card online (and isn’t it cute that gift cards are basically cash with subtracted value? why did we agree to this?), which yielded: Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, Natsume Sōseki’s I Am a Cat, and Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren. I was sad not to have the introduction William Gibson wrote for later editions of Dhalgren, but otherwise pleased with myself. One way that the internet is not like stores: I Am a Cat is written from the perspective of a cat. I assumed the cat would not be very verbose, but I was wrong. Book is nearly two inches thick and comprised of three volumes. I am intimidated by the cat.

Borders was not having my wish to buy used with a gift card, but it did have a little box for promo codes that I dutifully asked the internet for to save myself $5. (They then calculated tax after I’d already given them billing information, by which point I was sufficiently worn down to pay them $2.48, which is more than a dollar. Mea culpa.) Resulting haul: Joshua Beckman’s Take It, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and Matthew Lewis’ The Monk. I appreciate the thriftiness of Dover Thrift Editions. And the use of a detail from the “hell” panel from Heironymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights for the cover of The Monk (behind a figure of a monk), which I have a feeling is no more dramatic than the book itself, if weirder and more serious.

Anyway, poll to follow on the gift card books.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “gift card maximization

  1. Tim

    I spent several months lost in Dhalgren last year, great book.

    The William Gibson introduction isn’t all that great. Lots of stuff about Dhalgren as the lost city of the 60’s/70’s counterculture, which, while I understand every text is produced within a historical context, I think makes the book sound much less relevant to contemporary stuff than it actually is.

    I have heard, though, there’s some wacky mis-edited language stuff with that book, and the newer versions may be slightly more authoritative.

    Hope you enjoy — let me know what you think.

    ~tim

    • “Wacky mis-edited language” almost sounds like a bonus–book plus the hunt for what exactly got fucked up. Although I’m sure Delaney doesn’t particularly appreciate it. I am excited.

  2. kirsty

    yay joshua beckman! he read me a poem in my apartment a few months back. remind me to introduce you to the machine project when you are in LA. also, if you didn’t think cats were verbose, you clearly need to spend some quality time with my fruitbat.

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