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How do I thin my collection? How do YOU thin your collection?

Hey folks, I have a quick question to ask:
What is the most effective way of shrinking the physical size of your game collection?
I gues the obvious answer is to "get rid of it". But how do you personally do it, if at all? How do you choose what goes and what should stay? Do you sell on ebay, on messageboards, or give it away? Any zen-like words of wisdom?

Sometimes, in periods of anxiety in my life, I find myself worring about how much space my game stuff takes up and even worrying about what is worth keeping or even what game I should be planning for. (outside of what I am playing at the moment anyway)

I have many game books that go unread or unused but are collected and I think I want to be a PLAYER of games and not really a collector. Game stuff is about the only object-hoarding issue I have other than the general books on my shelves, but I don't fret as much over the general books as I do with the game stuff.

I mean it's cool to own the complete run of Spelljammer products, but there are too many boxes of books that are sitting unread/unplayed. I think it comes down to that feeling of loss and regret that happens if I sell a book and suddenly feel the urge to play it later on.

So, how do you get rid of your game stuff?


I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but I sell it.

Unused gaming materials hit ebay about once every year for me. I ask myself if I am going to run the game or use the book in the next 12-24 months. If I say "no" I sell it.

I do the same things with my unpainted miniatures from time-to-time. I rarely sell painted miniatures these days.

We also have a great little auction at our local convention and I ditch board games there almost every year as well.
you could send me some stuff LOL i have nothing except my dice and a folder with some of my old character sheets, everything else either got lost in a move, or waterdamaged while in storage..who knew a storage facility on the upper side of a hill would get hit that bad in a downpour. lost a ton of books other than my gaming books which were all AD&D and 2nd ed stuff...

Game On!!


Staff member
If its in good shape, you can also donate it- the USO, some libraries, game clubs, & youth organizations would be happy to have them.


As a retired military member, I salute your choice of donation. The DAV is a good place for veterans and has the need. (As do other charities to be sure)

I don't attend the DAV but I gone by there for services. Nice org.


to the OP, I guess the questions are:
how much excess"material are we talking about?
how much space is it taking up?
is your place crowded for space?
Are you suffering from a psychological disorder*?

*I don't think us internet people should diagnose you, but you mentioned the word "anxiety". If you are suffering from some mental complication, I advise not taking any action on this topic, as it's just your wiring acting up, applying pressure to do somthing that you probably don't need to do. Kind of like how somebody who hears voices should probably NOT do what the voices say.

Unless your house is short on space, there's little need to get rid of gaming books that you don't need/haven't used. From my perspective, such products are tools. Just because I haven't used the tool, doesn't mean I may not want/need to use it later.

Conversely, if you're tight on space, start by dumping the older game systems you've never played or haven't played since you picked up the new edition that you do play. If you can't bear to dump the 1e books, dump the oddball game systems you've never played.

From there, work on the add-on books that focus on stuff you've never used.

The relevance of this basic strategy is if you respond "I've got 9 books on my shelf" then that's a pittance of books (unless you live in a very tiny apartment).


If it doesn't excite me when I look at it, it goes to the farm - the charity shop for local 'Deen City Farm' where children can come into contact with farm animals.

Edit: If it's useful for a game played at my D&D Meetup I'll give it away to somebody there - eg I gave away a wet-erase flipmat, 'Revenge of the Giants', a first printing of Labyrinth Lord, and a lot of surplus d20s. I *never* give away minis, though - they're evergreen! ;)

Years ago I used to sell stuff on amazon marketplace, but I haven't bothered doing that in a long time. It only seems worth it if it's something I think is pretty drek but is going for wads of cash to collectors.
Few RPG products meet that criteria, but I did get over £20 for "Slave Girl of Gor"! :lol:

Edit: You've inspired me to do a New Year's clean-out, cheers! :)
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I avoid the potential "seller's regret" by only selling things that are available digitally. I recently scoured every PDF selling site and compared their inventories to my physical collection. Anything I could buy in PDF (or already had in PDF), went into the sell pile, with the exception of core rulebooks and a few other "collector's items."


Staff member
Not that this should be the deciding factor, but in the US at least, donations are also tax write offs.

I don't usually bother, though. Too much a tracking of small $$$ stuff makes it more trouble than its worth.

At one point, I used to raid my Half-Price Books locations for good game books, then I'd go to Lone Star Comics (Irving, Tx location) to buy dice and donate them there- they had a program set up to send stuff to US servicemen serving in the Middle East theaters.* I don't know how many 3Ed Core3 + OA sets I sent, along with some HERO 4th, Ars Magica and GURPS.

* I'd also buy good paperback anthologies or single book novels in the Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror genres for donation at the same place.
Thanks for the advice so far. Sorry if this decends into intense gamer navel-gazing.

And good suggestions for charity give-aways, I kinda imagine all those soldiers on tour are out there rolling dice in a tent somewhere. It must be a bitch to get funny dice in some theaters of operation.

I don't think my "anxiety" reaches into mental health levels quite yet, although you would have to ask my wife. :)
It is more like a subconcious anger that I am slightly preoccupied with where I would put my game books when I have other more pressing vital issues that I should be thinking about in the back of my mind. Perhaps it is a stress response that I learned when I first started buying game-stuff as a teen.

Should I ditch this system for that? Will I never find someoneone to play 4e with in a year? I only really play basic D&D anyway. Etc.
It is almost as if I want to purge the works to eliminate my frittering attention to it.

Anyway, I have recently moved and I technically have more space for it, but I don't want to be a junk collector. I have approximately 20 tightly packed plastic banker-boxes full of books and crates of some metal miniatures and larger GW games from back in the day. (Adeptus Titanicus was awesome.) Minis are evergreen and I will hold onto them.

My experinces with getting rid some of my stuff:
sold big Car Wars collection (bought it all back later and played the hell out of it)
sold Starfleet Battles (bought it all back later and played)
sold Palladium Books (bought a couple books back and instantly wondered why I did('cause rifts is wacky))
sold original Space Hulk (goddamnit)
sold a bunch of GURPS books, bought a bunch of different GURPS book, haven't played in a long while.
sold a total Hackmaster collection because I play OSR now, no regrets
gave away Traveller reprints, no regrets because of pdfs
gave away good Pendragon collection but then played Pendragon campaign with person I gave it to (good trade)

I think the moral of the story is that for every book I ditch I replace it with something else. I am hoping that I can migrate into a PDF-reading gamer and then limit my fretting to my hard drive.



Noble Knight Games is my current mail & trade shop: http://www.nobleknight.com/
They're great. I've tried my FLGSs, used book stores & eBay, too. It's just easier to ship it for credit and get other new or used stuff I can read, play & enjoy.

For me, the fun is in getting & using game books & products. I don't really enjoy just owning most of it. For past editions, once I was finished playing one, I kept my PHBs but got rid of the rest. Occasionally, I wish I had some of it; but then I remember that I enjoyed it fully and that I am finished with it. Even if the enjoyment was just reading it, I had the entertainment value of it. I have repurchased a few things, but it's a small price to pay.

I have a defined area for my RPG books, too; and that helps keep the size of the collection controlled. Also, not buying every new thing that catches my eye keeps it small. I really think about whether I really will play it or run it before buying it. If not, I still might get it just to read, but the process is deliberate.

I agree that minis are evergreen. But they can get out of hand too. These days I try to wait until I need new ones for an imminent game before I buy them rather than stocking up on cool minis for all those games I would love to run or play just in case I need them later. And I haven't painted in years so I get prepainted ones for the heroes and use others for the foes.

For the OP, it sounds like you're really lamenting all the fun you're not having that those books represent. I know exactly how that feels because I have the same thoughts. But, it's OK to let go of the ones that you really don't see happening. It's also OK to decide to keep some that you value for other reasons--even just nostalgia--if you have the space and it's not a hoarding issue (looks well organized though).

Remember, our possessions are to serve us, not vice versa. If it's not serving you by making you happy, then get rid of it.


I've had to do some "thinning of the herd" with my game stuff, sometimes to my regret.

For most of my gaming stuff, I sold it through E-bay. Funny thing is that it seems there's a bigger market for RPGs in Europe than the US. The big pitfalls I had with Ebay is getting the shipping right, and generally found media mail USPS to be the cheapest and most reliable (UPS, on the other hand, has been the WORST - if you do UPS make sure you get the option to have it signed for).

One of the things I've learned is to keep the basic rules system books and purge the splatbooks. More often than not, the splatbooks will take a good game and unbalance it or make it unwieldy. Only keep those spatbooks (and adventures) that you feel really add to the game and you would use more than 2% of the content (i.e., one class, feat, ability, monster, etc.) If there is something you really want to keep out of a supplement, but it's like "just one thing", think about photocopying the page(s) you want/need and excising the book.

Also, as someone else mentioned, replacing books with PDF copies is often a great idea. I've found my iPad is ideal for storing PDF copies of rulebooks and with some training, I now tend to use it instead of books. I've eliminated an entire 6' tall bookshelf with it's use (and would probably have reduced more if the D&D scans weren't so horrible - see below). Also, if need be, you can print out sections or the entire PDF if need be for game table use. If you do go with PDFs, make sure you check out the PDF copy before you get rid of the physical copy. I've run into a few PDFs that because of quality or size rendered poorly on my digital device and were unworkable (generally these were older books that were scanned in as big ol' honking images and not cleaned up or OCR'd - Lot5R 3rd ed, I'm looking at you!).

Finally, if you've reached your maximum storage, when you're tempted to buy a new RPG or book, make a pact with yourself to get rid of TWO books that you currently own to make room for it.

P.S.: If you migrate to PDF's, back it all up. Inititally I was backing up to DVD's, but if I got a new PDF, I'd have to make a new disc. Now I keep a backup on (two) USB 1TB drives (Thumbdrives work well too). If, for some reason I lose the one drive, I have the spare kept in a safe place.
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About this time last year I cleaned out my collection, a lot.

It wasn't entirely voluntary. I was in a huge financial crunch. My wife couldn't find a job, my active duty orders were over, and my civilian job was paying only a little over half what I had been making on active duty.

So, I started selling off my books. I liquidated most of my GURPS stuff except for the core books, almost all my Old World of Darkness stuff (which I liked as a setting, but knew it would be a long time, if ever, before I played it again), and a lot of random RPG books that I'd picked up over the years.

I didn't touch my Star Wars RPG books, D&D, or New World of Darkness (lousy setting, but a lot more playable as a game).

Selling them off at used book stores got me about $250. Was enough for a big grocery run to last us the month.