Are you thinking of donating to your library? Consider the following:
Recently, the above essay was published in the Globe and Mail. It resonated with our volunteers because we see this tragedy every day. It’s a fact of life.
It’s a little sad that we’ve spent so much money on our libraries, only to have them thrown away; on the other hand, it’s not the books that matter so much as the content. The most valuable stuff is already in our brains.
Do you have a personal library you’re thinking of pruning? Hold each book in your hands and consider these questions:
- In its current condition, would you pay $3-$10 (or more) for the book?
- Are the contents relevant to today’s reader?
- Would it be of interest to someone who already has a library (because it’s your fellow bibliophiles who are buying most of the books)?
- Are there already a gazillion copies available, and there’s nothing special about your copy?
The following lists outline what we do with donated books: these guidelines might help you get your books to the right place.
Straight in the Garbage
- Anything damaged. This includes torn covers or pages, loose spines, water damage and coffee spills.
- Anything with black or white mildew. Smell the book to make sure there is none.
- Anything dirty, extremely dusty or with evidence of insect activity
Off to the Recycling Bins
- magazines that are not collectible
- scruffy paperbacks and soft-covers
- scruffy fiction
- out-of-date non-fiction (including encyclopedia sets that are not collectible)
- culturally-inappropriate non-fiction or fiction (e.g. anything currently considered offensive to minority groups)
To the Sale Shelves
- regular priced:
- clean, relevant fiction and non-fiction
- signed by unknown or self-published author/illustrator
- Book-of-the-Month club
- higher priced:
- fiction and non-fiction from the last two years
- signed by famous author/illustrator (without an inscription to a specific person)
- antique (WWII or earlier)
- collectible libraries (such as Franklin)
- boxed books (such as Folio)
- very large coffee-table books
- Amazon or e-Bay:
- books worth over $40 on Amazon.ca or www.isbns.net
- collectible sets
- antique books (first editions more than 100 years old)
Are you interested in how second-hand bookshops currently work? We highly recommend Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Bookseller.