Friday, February 17, 2012

Yes, I Mean You Have To Take These Back.

Good afternoon my fellow blog reader[s]. It is I, Carl, the other half of the dynamic UBC duo filling in for Natasha to talk about a topic of much consternation: Book Donations.

It is a common misconception that one can simply leave their unwanted books here at the Booksmith; that with a wink and a nod we will quote/unquote Take Care of Them. Now, I can empathize with the desire to simply be rid of unwanted books. People travel long distances and some take public transportation and many more hoof it with overstuffed backpacks. I feel your pain. It can be an arduous task getting them here and then to have to take them back? Bah! Sorry Carl. No can do. I will simply leave them in front of your store like an orphan on a church step in the dead of night. Or better yet, tell you I'm going to Trader Joe's and that I'll be back later to pick them up (promise!) even though I know you're thinking "How is this dude going to carry his groceries AND this box of books?" well don't you worry about that because I'm a magician and my greatest trick is that I can go the grocery store and not only carry my groceries home but completely ignore the fact that I just left you with a box of unsaleable books. Ha! Suckers!

While it isn't a huge deal for dispose of unwanted books, it can't always be our responsibility - the balance of ownership doesn't tilt in our direction once they enter our store. Also, we don't have a lot of extra space to store boxes of books. That door behind the buying desk? It goes nowhere. Have you ever seen Being John Malkovich? It's sort of like that. But you end up in far worse place then the side of a highway in New Jersey. Trust me. It's ugly.

Again, I feel your pain.

So what to do with the books we can't buy? Here are a few suggestions:

Obvious, with little work involved:
-Donate them to a non profit charity, library, homeless shelter, prison or school program. There are many organizations in the Boston area alone that are in dire need of reading materials. We're actually working on a list of places and will post them online and in the store when finished.
-Bring them to another used book store! What we can't take another store might. One's trash is another's treasure.

Slightly less obvious, with a medium amount of work involved:
-Mail them to a buddy or several buddies as a gag. Its a semi-expensive gag, sure. But man, the look on their face when they open that box will be well worth it. Wow! A Dean Koontz omnibus and the last half of the Da Vinci Code. Great! Been meaning to throw these away! Careful when shipping as anything higher than media mail and the joke is on you.
-You could burn 'em. Normally I wouldn't suggest burning books but really that collection of '85 Honda Civic manuals ain't gonna just disappear on their own.

Even less obvious, with a fair amount of work involved:
-You could, over a period of time, systematically throw them one by one on to our roof. I've been suggesting this for years. There's probably a collection up there that would make the BPL weep.
-You could, over a period of time, systematically throw them one by one onto your own roof (works best if your's is flat). This acts as a sort of low budget insulation in the winter and summer months. Think about it: traps heat in the winter and keeps the sun from melting you in the summer. Spring and fall being your best heaving seasons. Note: requires a ladder if you have, say, tennis elbow or a bum shoulder. Or ungrateful children who forgot about all those times you drove them to the mall. Or whatever.
-You could sprinkle them about town like some high-brow, uber-literate Johnny Appleseed. Leave a few at the laundromat, a doctor's office, food court. get creative. But not too creative.

In conclusion, this whole messy situation can be avoided by first sorting through your books. Books with underlining, torn covers, broken spines, water damage, or mold should be left out. As should outdated materials (old almanacs, textbooks, or manuals), hardcover best sellers (we buy mostly paperbacks), audio tapes, magazines, random shoes, phone books, and small appliances. And as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to get us on the horn or electronically send us a letter.

I love you all,


beth said...

Before you take the books a used bookseller wouldn't accept to a library a homeless shelter consider this: if you don't want this book anymore, and a professional has already deemed it unsellable, is someone going to want to buy it at a library booksale? is a homeless person going to want to read it just because they're homeless? I can assure you a library is NOT going to put it into their collection.

It's okay to recycle old books. It feels like it's not okay, but I am here to tell you, a real promise, it's totally okay.

Carl said...

agree with Beth. obviously if a book is poor condition your best bet is to simply recycle them.

but a lot of what we don't purchase is still in perfectly acceptable condition and should be donated. as always common sense should prevail.