burn baby burn

Michael Lieberman over at Book Patrol has posted his thoughts on Tom Wayne’s recent bookburning –

“The burning of books no matter what the motivation can never be a positive. It is ultimately, a selfish act of destruction and to claim that nobody wanted them as a requisite to the burning borders on delusional.”

Delusional? hardly. Burning is just one of the myriad ways to remove unwanted book stock from the public trough. Period. Normally unwanted books just get pitched into a dumpster. Unlike the folks throwing a hissy fit, booksellers KNOW what Tom Wayne was actually doing. He was protesting lack of sales of ALL books, by burning books that were appropriate discard materials.

Why discard old books? because you are FREAKING SUPPOSED TO. Many many many books are created to be transitory. They are merely vehicles for information not sacred objects d’art. Oh damn, let me count the ways – Textbooks, like new cars, ridiculously overpriced and outdated the moment the drive off the lot. Old political science, biographies of people no one remembers, ex-library that have been read to death, crappy airport fiction from previous decades, abused childrens books, outdated theology, abridged volumes, unhelpful self help books . . . and so on. Reader’s Digest Condensed books alone should be outlawed or at least come with a bottle deposit.

Why do you think bookstores come with dumpsters? not just for unsold remainders & stripped mass market fiction form new stores. But DEAD BOOKS from used bookstore stock, books that even thrift stores can’t sell. They all SHOULD BE DISCARDED. Hell, not every library sells their ‘discards’, some of them just DISCARD them. They have lived their life, done their job and should be disposed of properly.

Numerous booksellers will tell you when you are trying to GIVE away books that are NOT salable you will find many doors slammed in your face. Even when they accept your detritus, they may just gracefully wheel the boxes out the back door to their own dumpster.

While you may find the concept of ‘burning’ books a thought crime. I find not recycling them a bigger one one. Recycling them takes a level of effort our society hasn’t embraced. A lot of recycling companies, insist on cover removal, which can be tedious and messy. Old unwanted unsalable books are a fire hazard, attract bugs and consumer storage space and resources. I say compost pile the lot of them.


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