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Beloved Books in the Bin

Beloved Books in the Bin

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Is anything worth keeping anymore?

Is anything worth keeping anymore? Source: svenwork hide caption

toggle caption Source: svenwork

This is going to sound incredibly geeky, but I'm sorry, I want to know: What's your relationship with books?

In my family, they've always been little treasures, whether they're wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree or lined up in long rows of shelving in the living room. I've always been surrounded by books and taught to treat them with reverence: no dog-earing the pages, don't break the spine, and certainly don't write in the margins. To me, the object carries meaning that often outweighs its physical heft.

Sadly, Jonathan Karp, a publisher, says we have entered "the age of the disposable book." He's got a point — here at NPR we receive bazillions of books every day. Seriously. Bazillions. And the redundancy, quick-turnaround, and shallowness of many of the titles boggles the mind.

Publishers push books out hoping for a hit, but in this morass of media, it's a miracle anything unusual rises to the top (To wit: The New York Times hardcover fiction bestsellers list right now features Janet Evanovich, James Patterson, and Danielle Steel. Powerhouses!). According to Karp (couldn't resist), however, there's hope: "the lasting books will, ultimately, be where the money is." Here's hoping. And, in the meantime, I'm holding onto my collection of "lasting books."



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I only buy books that I've already read and enjoyed so much that I know I will want to read it again. Everything else I read, I check out of the library. It boggles my mind that someone would buy a book and only read it once.

Sent by Amanda | 2:20 PM | 7-8-2008

I live in an area in upstate NY when, until recently, we didn't have a big box store that carried, among other items I like, these horrible books Karp references. The books I like are mainly sci-fi/fantasy, which are very difficult to browse in your neighborhood bookstore. Now, with the big box, it's not unusual I'm in there at least twice a week adding to my already impressive library.
I have books from my teenage years - 20 years ago - which are currently out of print (and have been for a long time) and I occasionally re-read. My mother passed along those same book etiquette points to me as Ms. Handel's family passed along to her. To me, a good book, no matter how many times it is re-read, will offer you something slightly different each time you read it.

Sent by Michelle | 3:44 PM | 7-8-2008

It is almost sacreligious for me to throw away a book. Plus I find the older I get the more I read books I"ve read before as I seem to forget what they were about... One good thing about slight memory loss

Sent by Kathy | 3:47 PM | 7-8-2008

I keep all the books I read to my two daughters and am building what I call a Legacy Library. I buy only hard backs, laminate the jackets, and affix card holder with library cards to make the books last and give them a history of who read them and when.

Sent by Amy Hadin-Turosak | 3:51 PM | 7-8-2008

I recently started trading my books on "Book Mooch" a website set up to recycle books to others and where you can obtain books you would like to read. It is wonderful! Check it out - .

Sent by Victoria | 3:53 PM | 7-8-2008

yeah jonathan karp-anything with a 12 imprint is fabulous. keep up the good work!

Sent by hannah | 3:54 PM | 7-8-2008

One book I keep and cherish for 50+ years is The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery. No other description and ode to friendship and the art of relationships is better....

Sent by Raul | 3:56 PM | 7-8-2008

I love to read, and prefer hardcovers to paperbacks. When I finish with them I send them to my mother, who reads them shares them with her friends. They then come back to me, to go to my niece, once they have made the rounds if it's a favorite author it goes on the shelf. Otherwise it goes in a box to be donated to the public library. Of course all books signed by the author are kept.

Sent by Irene Adler | 3:57 PM | 7-8-2008

Like others, I basically keep books that have touched me in some way and that I know I will re-read. Mostly sci-fi and fantasy by authors like Tolkein, Robert Heinlein and George R R Martin. Story that I may someday read to my children.

Sent by Carl | 4:09 PM | 7-8-2008

I've worked for a major bookselling chain for going on 20 years and contrary to what Jonathan Karp says, the books do not get mulched, as far as I can observe. We do what we call stripping covers on our monthly returns list, trash the innards and return the covers to the distributor for credit toward the purchase of more books that'll probably get the same treatment. I've heard that the pages of books are treated with something that preserves them so that they won't even break down in the landfill. There are too many books published. Monthly romance series get trashed when the next month's come in. Buyers who don't have a clue order huge quantities in for the holidays and then we have what we call the "Big Bombs" return list. These books come back as bargains which the company gets for a few cents & marks up several hundred percent.
People still seem to love physically possessing books, but several book-lovers I know have digital books and enjoy them. I think the book industry is still trying to figure this out & the day of the book superstores is numbered.

Sent by Sallie | 4:09 PM | 7-8-2008

Recycle your books through:
or send to the men and women stationed overseas.

Sent by dntwn | 4:19 PM | 7-8-2008

I've NEVER lost my place in a book just because the power went out! I've NEVER had to recharge a book because the battery was too low to read it.

However, not all books are worth the paper they consume. I often peruse books at the bookstore or borrow from the library before I buy. But, once bought, THEY'RE MINE!

Sent by Harold | 5:20 PM | 7-8-2008

Absolutely, I keep books. I own books I don't intend to read. *GASP*. At the dawn of an age where books are being "digitized", and entities who are not me control the "digital copy", I cannot rely on a faceless big brother to take care of my reading needs. Thanks, but no thanks. Digitization efforts are wonderful and will help research, checking for plagiarism, and will give readers steps in the right direction- to the library.

Sent by Benjamin L. Clark | 9:08 PM | 7-8-2008

I keep all books that I enjoyed reading. I especially collect books from my favorite authors. The ones I do not want to keep, I give to the library.

Sent by Erica | 11:19 AM | 7-9-2008