An article entitled "Book donations made easier" appeared in our local paper recently. Three Rockingham County towns have signed on with a bookseller called Got Books. The company, a for-profit business based in Massachusetts, places containers for donated books near landfills or recycling centers. Their trucks collect the contents weekly. A used book sale is then held every Friday and Saturday at their warehouse in North Reading. 50% of each weekend's sale profits go to a variety of non-profit organizations in the area. I congratulate the Got Books people for an innovative, and apparently successful, business endeavor.
What bothered me in the article was the sentence that said, "Books not sold in the book sales are given away to schools and libraries ..." So in Step 1, the book was so used, so outdated, or so unwanted that the original owner dropped it in the Got Books bin to get rid of it. In Step 2, the book was not even interesting enough to sell for a discount at a warehouse sale! So, its next evolution is to offer it to schools and libraries? Since when did we become the book home of last resort? Why would anyone think that we would want third-hand leftovers? Why would anyone assume that a library would be happy to accept scraps? Our customers want new titles, the hot DVDs, current music, and the latest bestsellers on audio and tape.
Here in Dover, we encourage you to donate your used books directly to the library. Yes, we do get plenty of clunkers (like the four boxes of '80s management textbooks that came on Monday) that go directly to our next booksale or to the recycling center, but on Saturday we also got a wonderful donation of the two brand new novels by Robert Parker and Michael Connelly! We have about a dozen people waiting to read these two books, so we will gratefully add them to our collection.
Twice a year we have fantastic booksales, sponsored by the Friends of the Library. By the time of the next sale in April, those two Parker and Connelly novels will probably be past their height of popularity and we can take those extra copies and put them in the sale. $4.00 for the Friends! The Friends of the Library make thousands of dollars at our sales; funds that go right back into programs and services and equipment for the library. Did you know that all of our family museum passes are purchased for us by the Friends? That service alone costs over $2000 annually.
So while I wish Got Books the best of luck in their business--- they've seen a niche and are acting on it, I still prefer the direct-to-the-library route for your book (and media) donations.
Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled volumes yearning to breathe free...! We'll keep what we need, sell the rest, and use the profits to purchase more library stuff you really want. Let's not use the middleman!