Friday August 29, 2014

What a shame to toss books

When the owner of At Second Glance decided to pull the plug on her business, she had a big problem on her hands — a huge inventory of books that had to go, and go fast.

Pat DiFrancesco tried increasingly generous sales to move volumes out the door and many bargain hunters snapped them up. In the end, she tried giving them away free.

But still there were 20,000 left — about one-tenth of the stock. It seems there are some books in this world that no one wants. Period. And so they went to the dump.

For the sentimentalists among us, though, this just doesn’t seem right. You can dispose of newspapers and magazines (except National Geographic, of course), but you can’t throw away a book. And you especially shouldn’t be throwing away 20,000 of them.

Why do so many of us feel that way? There is something sacred about a printed and bound volume, especially if it contains knowledge. It seems like this is something that should be passed down through the ages, not tossed in the garbage.

If we have to throw away books, shouldn’t we at least give them a decent funeral? Perhaps a nice big bonfire with some respectful words spoken before might be appropriate.

The thought of those countless pages sitting in a landfill, suffering the indignity of being eaten by insects while exposed to the elements is almost too much to bear.

Still, with recycling being too expensive, in this case at least, there was no alternative.

And we should keep in mind, too, that many books are not worth saving. Textbooks with outdated ideas about career choices for women or pecking orders for the races would be good examples.

But let’s look at the bright side. About 90 per cent of the books from At Second Glance found good homes. And many of those will be passed along like treasures through the generations, finding new readers who have not yet been born.

For those who love to read, this is consolation.

We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.

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