Friday, January 18, 2008

Recycling in publishing

I just want people to read this story by Susan Dominus in the New York Times, about homeless people scavenging books from trash bins in New York City and bringing them to the Strand (thanks for the link, Shelf Awareness). I admire the enterprising folks doing this. I can't quite get my head around whether I should be happy to see books surviving in this way, themselves showing the perseverance Tommy Germain said is necessary to survive on the streets, or sad to hear about them getting tossed out. (Of course we'll all bristle when Dominus mentions that paperbacks can be recycled, says the city's trash services, but hardcovers need to have the covers torn off, "a request that for booklovers is tantamount to asking 10-year-old girls to rip Barbie’s head off before discarding her in the trash.")

But hearing about Neil Harrison getting $600 for a treasure trove of classics he pulled out of a dead man's storage facility - done with the help of a charitable door man - and peeling off $20 as a tip to the clerk? Fine, it's patronizing, but still has a certain charm to it as a city tale.

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