Home Forums Welcome Hello! Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

This topic contains 21 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of chacha1 chacha1 1 year, 7 months ago.

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  • #160327
    Profile photo of Another Deb
    Another Deb
    Member

    http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2013-02-21/news/disappearing-ink-where-will-all-the-books-go/

    This book sale in Phoenix is a huge event, with warehouses full of books. They have a giant fairgrounds building for all the sboppers and I have stood in lines several blocks long in order to get in. It is a bit of a shock to know that a lot of common titles are considered so worthless that they get made into pulp instead.

    The description of the culling and recycling process was interesting. I keep putting books into donation stacks and re-sale stacks, but now I see that I have a much higher opinion of their worth than the used bookstore does.

    In one way it helps me not feel bad about recycling(or repurposing them in crafts) but on the other hand I feel like I am preserving an endangered species by keeping them!

  • #232756
    Profile photo of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    It took me a good long time to get over the reality that a used book is typically worth less than blank paper. I traded in two fat bags of art & design books last weekend, probably with a face value totaling more than $400. I got sixty dollars in trade credit.

    Fortunately, I am now at the point where I would *rather* swap ten books I’ve already enjoyed for two that are new to me.

    I have a 107-yr-old edition of Shakespeare, with engravings by Gustave Dore, that I sort of plan to turn into wallpaper one day. :-) It cost me five dollars and is “worth” absolutely nothing. That’s okay.

  • #232757
    Profile photo of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    that was a fascinating read!
    i have come a long way on my own book journey….from cherishing them above everything else, to seeing them as “things on a to do list”.
    and i have become very fond of “book art” but i don’t own any. i like looking at it.

  • #232759

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Fascinating — thanks!

  • #232766
    Profile photo of herisff
    herisff
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Very interesting, thanks for posting! I will take a hard look at the box of books I am holding to trade – if there’s too many books of the same title in the trade queue, I think I’ll toss my copy as not being worth the postage to mail. I have LOTS of credits since my major cull a few years ago.

  • #232770
    Profile photo of djk
    djk
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Very interesting article!

  • #232775
    Profile photo of Barbs
    Barbs
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Thanks for linking this. There was a paragraph in the middle I found especially disturbing.

    *Even in the digital age, some online crusaders are on a mission to permanently delete content, a situation often cited as a reason to keep physical copies safe and preserved in libraries and universities around the world.*

    WTH. Eternal vigilance I guess is indeed eternal.

  • #232785
    Profile photo of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    interesting article, thanks for sharing!

  • #232788
    Profile photo of ChiFlower
    ChiFlower
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Interesting. I will remember this for when I tackle the boxes of books in my storage unit. Makes me feel less guilty for throwing them out.

  • #232789
    Profile photo of Nina
    Nina
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    One thing I find noticable is that while there are way too many of some books (like the formentioned Dan Browns, Danielle Steele or Lance Armstrong biografies) I have tried to find some books – especially for my studies – that are hard to come by. I guess they never made a lot of them and they are not available as ebooks so they just kind of disapear. I think for those books being digitized is a chance to have the work and content saved.

  • #232792
    Profile photo of Ella
    Ella
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    On the other side…
    I don’t buy books unless they’re especially well made or have unusual features, such as the illustrations. I seldom get rid of books, but when I do, I sell them on eBay, often for far more than I originally paid. As a former book designer and letterpress printer, I’m gratified to find the books I designed on abebooks or bookfinder now going for hundreds of dollars. I have a stash of portfolio copies, and occasionally I sell one when I’m in need. By releasing those copies on the market slowly, the value stays high.

    Nowadays, I use the library almost exclusively. Even fine-press books can be read there in the Special Collections department. They just acquired a $600 fine edition of Wilkie Collins’s “The Moonstone”:
    http://www.arionpress.com/catalog/095.htm
    I can go in to read it there (wearing white gloves, of course :D ). Or I can check out the circulating Penguin edition of the book. Either way, I don’t need to buy a one-off read.

    As declutterers, we can follow the principles of living an uncluttered life in our book purchases as well as anything else we acquire. However, cluttery readers who buy one-off reads in cheap paperbacks of popular books like Danielle Steele or sci-fi or mysteries are the same people who bemoan decluttering their messy bookshelves, and they contribute to the lamentable waste described in this article.

    Libraries can step in, in full force, as book buyers for the public. For example, I’m on the waiting list for a copy of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” of which there are currently 70 copies circulating in the SF system… plus, 30 more new copies are now being processed, because the demand is so high. The library wouldn’t spend that money on a junk book; this is a winner of the Man Booker Prize, and its readership will assuredly remain high.

  • #232793

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Very interesting article. The Phoenix sale experience parallels that of our local friends-of-the-library used book sale. In our case, volunteers do all the work, so there is no cost to the library budget. Every six months or so, they hold a big sale. The more recent books go first, then the collectibles and pretty coffee table books, then random bits of this and that, and last, the books they simply can’t sell for love or money get carted away. It’s interesting that it is harder to recycle the hardbacks than the paperbacks; I had not thought about having to cut off the binding on the hardbacks. There are a lot of cookbooks no one wants.

    I don’t have any objections to pulping paperbacks on obsolete computer systems or the endless “I’m okay, you’re okay” self help type paperbacks. If we’d had these as electronic copies in the first place, we’d delete them without compunction when we needed space or we were finished with them.

    The wide availability of used books on the internet is wonderful. If I really want something, chances are good I can find it sooner or later. It’s sobering to realize that paperbacks can be had for a penny plus that infamous $3.99 shipping and handling charge. And there are a dozen copies for a penny apiece.

  • #232799
    Profile photo of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Ella, I’ve actually found it to be the opposite – the cheap paperback mysteries, romances, and SF are the ones I have to buy if I want to ever reread them (though more and more are becoming available digitally) because the library will always have the classics and prizewinners but will probably discard the genre books. The only exception is poetry, which basically nobody ever buys as far as I can tell. I’ve gotten rid of all our classics except the ones we regularly reread, because if I ever want to reread Titus Andromachus or The Divine Comedy, it will be easy to get a copy. But my favorite romance novel from 1987? Even if a library out there has it, half of them don’t bother to catalogue their genre paperbacks, so I’ll never find it.

  • #232819

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    I think what surprised me the most about the article was at the end of the first page:
    “Turns out you can’t give away a good book these days. In 2010, the Chicago Public Library released a letter explaining that because of budget cuts, book donations no longer were accepted. It cost too much to sort, input, and shelve the thousands of books that came through donation bins. Libraries across the country soon followed.”

    I’m used to one of our charities that does a couple of book mega-sales each year (that I no longer attend because of lack of shelf space and $) asking for people to not drop, into their collection boxes, books that are missing pages or covers, are torn or otherwise unsaleable because then they have to pay to dump them but I didn’t think of libraries point blank refusing donated books.

    I wonder why it is that I’m happy to throw out copies of old magazines but still cringe at book art (unless it’s some work that I consider of low worth – yes, a very subjective assessment). Is it because magazines come out so quickly – generally once a month – or is it because I think that if someone thought the subject matter saleable enough to justify expending the resources to print as a book then somehow it is more ‘worthwhile’ reading and should be kept for posterity (even though I’ve had some books that are just so appalling that even I have tossed them in my recycles bin rather than let them be inflicted on anyone else).

  • #232821

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    I do find though that I prefer a printed copy of a book over the ones I read on my laptop – it gets tiring on the eyes to read on the computer, then there’s the electricity required…

  • #232901
    Profile photo of ceduke
    ceduke
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    This was a fascinating read for me. I’ve gone from having five bookcases stuffed with books to one shelf of my sentimental favorites plus my kindle, and I’m never looking back! We moved three times (three states!) in a year, and hauling all of those books around was a nightmare! Next time we move, my books and DH’s will all fit in three boxes. Maybe fewer now that he has a kindle too and is realizing how nice it is to have all of the books at his fingertips all of the time.

  • #232977
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    Anonymous

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    just what I needed! Our bookcases are still overflowing. I’ve decluttered most of my classic and reference material as much as it is ever going to be, and I’m with Rosa on the romance – really difficult to find once you lose them. (And because their differences tend to be subtle character quirks and small plot elements rather than overarching plot, it’s just about impossible for Google to help too). But there’s certainly some stuff that I can be tougher about.

    The realization that they have very little value makes it much easier.

  • #233003
    Profile photo of xarcady
    xarcady
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    About libraries and donated books. I used to work at a State University library. They got a lot of donated books. Frequently from professors who were retiring and donating hundreds of old books.

    1) The donated books took up storage space.
    2) When enough books were gathered, someone from the library went through them all and pulled out anything that might be rare or valuable.
    3) A rare book expert was called in to evaluate those books. The library had to pay the expert.
    4) Sometimes a rare book would be added to the collection. Or a valuable book might be sold, to provide money to buy books more suited the library’s collection.
    5) The rest of the books were scanned to see if anything was suitable for the library’s collection. Most books were not. Most non-fiction books were outdated, popular fiction (mysteries, sci fi) weren’t a part of the library collection at all, most of the rest of the fiction–if the library needed it, they already had it. But sometimes, there’d be an older book that had been stolen or lost and the library wanted a copy.
    6) The books went into the library booksale. This was a huge hassle, as books were stolen, people constantly tried to argue down the price, making change was difficult with our peculiar cash handling system.
    7) After the books had been in the sale for 4 months, they were weeded out and donated or recycled, so that room could be made for other books on the sale shelves.

    This all cost space to store the books, and employee time to weed through the books and manage the book sale.

    And while all this was going on, the library was continually weeding out older, less used books and added to the pile of unwanted books. It was never-ending.

    A lot of people donate books to libraries thinking that the library will add all the books to the library book shelves. But the truth is, most libraries have rules about the books. A public library might only want children’s books with special, durable library bindings. Otherwise, they will constantly have to mend the books and that’s a hassle in time and money. Or they have a certain percentage of the collection set aside for romance novels (or mystery novels or whathaveyou) and they don’t need any more. Many don’t like too many paperbacks, because they get torn so easily.

    The average library scans donated books to see if there is anything worth selling, and possibly worth adding to the collection. The rest are disposed of in whatever way will make the library some money and cost the least in time and energy of it’s employees.

  • #233008
    Profile photo of lucy1965
    lucy1965
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    For those of you trying to track down obscure romance novels, may I recommend Smart Bitches, Trashy Books? Specifically the “Help A Bitch Out” feature, which is for finding a book based on “There were pirates, and I remember a couple of the dresses, and . . . .”

    Caveat: the name of the site alone should tell you that the place is NSFW; the denizens swear like they breathe and arguments in the comments can get quite heated. I like it there, but I’m a fan of Captain Awkward and Unf*ck Your Habitat.

  • #233087
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    OMG Lucy I LOVE SBTB They totally rock!

    another useful, informative post, xarcady – I’m gonna toss those old books without regret!

  • #233088
    Profile photo of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Xacardy – as a retired public library director, I heartily agree with what you said. :)

  • #233144
    Profile photo of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Article about charity book donations sheds light on what their value has become.

    Have to check out SBTB now. :-)

    I used to manage a discount bookstore, and I well remember the stacks of remainders that were sent to us long after they were off sale at the “first run” bookstores, and the bins full of stripped paperbacks that we discarded. That experience went a long way to curing me of book idolatry, even though at the same time my own collection was ballooning.

    Oddly enough, I went to that job from one matching quotes for the search service at a collectible book dealer’s. :-)

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