February 28, 2012
My husband and daughters recently surprised me upon their return from a foray for ice cream. Our local CVS is located next door to a Crown Book Liquidation store and they had scored a beautiful flocked-cover copy of The Secret Garden. Quite a nice surprise, I must say. However, I was not prepared for the disappointed discussion of the state of the store. Now, I had visited that store in the past and found it depressing beyond belief. It was the Land of Misfit Books. It was clear from the outset that this store (which was inhabiting the space previously used by Borders—like a hermit crab grabbing a discarded shell) was all of the leftover stock from the plethora of defunct bookstores. It truly is a wasteland of all the books you never wanted to buy. Which got me thinking…what’s going to happen to all those books? The sad truth is that these books will end up returned to warehouses, have their covers stripped off and then be recycled into pulp. It brings a new definition to pulp fiction, right? Why not send them to the local library? I’m sure it has to do with tracking stock, yada, yada, business talk about contracts, royalties, blah, blah. Besides, I’ve been behind the scenes of my local library and that place was full to the gills with donated books from library patrons. I’m not sure they need, nor want, scads of less than popular books. (Why am I having high school flashbacks? Do books have a social hierarchy? I’m thinking they must, like pretty much everything in life.) I guess the bright side to the fate of these books is that they are being recycled. Perhaps I can think of them like phoenixes. Burned in the ashes, to rise again once more. Or, perhaps, it’s like reincarnation—each return hopefully bringing them to a higher level of circulation and readership. Still, I can’t help but think that maybe one advantage to eBooks is that unpopular titles don’t end up destroyed; they just disappear—like all the good bookstores.