Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To burn or not to burn

A couple of years ago I posted about wanting to get rid of my full set of 1973 Encyclopaedia Britannica. They take up a lot of space, and I no longer use them. Alas, I never found a taker. With the internet, I guess no one wants a ton of encyclopedia, even though 99% of the information within them is still good. (And the color plates and overlays are gorgeous!) One of the commenters to my post suggested I have a bonfire in the driveway, but others were uncomfortable (and rightly so) with the idea of a book-burnin'.

Seems I'm not alone in having this inability to get rid of books that no one will take - for money or for free. A bookstore owner in Kansas City, Missouri, held a good old-fashioned book-burning when he wanted to thin out his book collection and found no takers. Tom Wayne decided to burn the books in protest of "society's diminishing support for the printed word." Like me, he is frustrated that no one will take perfectly good books off one's hands, not even schools or charities.

I love nothing more than browsing, then walking away with an armload of used books (ask my Aunt Nell, who had the task of packing up all my books for the move to New York). I love books, I purely do. But I would love for my set of encyclopedia to be in the hands of someone who could use them. I'd also love the shelf space they take up for my other books. So I can relate to bookstore-owner Wayne's dilemma.

And you guessed it - my 1973 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica was duly shipped to Manhattan and now resides on a couple of shelves in my "library." What do you do with old books?

5 comments:

Winston said...

Just 15 minutes ago I read of this on another blog. What a crying shame that we cannot find homes for books. I cannot bear to throw them away, so I keep them. The rub will come someday when trying to downsize. Then something's gotta give...

The book burning was for different reasons, but put me in mind of my post from last year:
http://www.nobodyasked.com/2006/09/09/mass-distraction/

At least we're not there. Yet...

Liz said...

Can you not ebay them? (Heavy to post though.) Surely they're collector's items? You could try emailing someone at Hay or whatever is America's town of books to see if there's any interest.

Books generally I give to charity shops (from whence came a lot of them!) I'm sure they could get a good price on a set so they'd be doing double good.

I still have large numbers of my children's books in the attic, just waiting for grandchildren ...

MaryB said...

Winston, yes I remember your post from last year. I think that was the point of the guy burning the books - he can't even GIVE 'em away, so what to do? And I can't bear to throw books away, either, hence, hauling a ton of them to New York!

Liz, nobody will touch encyclopedias over here, not even charities and second-hand book shops. I did try to sell them on eBay several times, but there were no takers. So, they're taking up space on two of my bookshelves. They look really smart, however! ;-)

Elsie said...

We give our used books (that we can't pawn off on friends) to the local library. What they don't want, they sell at book sales throughout the year. We also donate a lot of kids books to the local YMCA day care center. They give them to kids who otherwise couldn't afford books. As far as a full set of encyclopedias, I'm not sure, Mary. I like that they're on your shelf. I saw on a home decorating show people making "faux books" just to decorate. How embarrassing would it be to have someone try to pick one up and to find it's not even a book! At least yours aren't purely decorative -- they show off the 'smarty pants' you are!

MaryB said...

Yeah, Elsie - I think of them as a decorative item now (albeit a real heavy one). Usually I can find places to donate my books, but encyclopedias and textbooks are impossible to get rid of. (I keep my college textbooks as a reminder that once - yes, once - I was a college student.)