Stripped Books

The other morning I was doing a bit of cleaning. Every so oft, I like to go through my things and offload stuff I don’t need or no longer use. It helps ease the burden of moving. It’s a habit I got into during the time in my life when I averaged a move a year. Every move, without fail, had more boxes of books than anything else. By far. So the last move I boxed up some books that I figured I didn’t need and donated them to the library. I’m gathering another set and getting ready to donate them but in doing so I ran across something that always gives me pause: stripped books.

If a stripped book doesn’t make the cut, I have to toss it, I can’t donate it. Which is a shame. I have quite a few them and I know I’m not alone. Anyone who spent any time working in a bookstore most assuredly has a collection of stripped books. A stripped book isn’t some sort of bibliophile’s weird strip tease, but rather it’s when old mass market books are taken off the shelf to make room for newer titles. The publisher doesn’t want the book itself back, but rather just the cover. So the cover is torn off and the book is thrown out. It always pained me to see bags of books in the dumpster. So I felt it my duty to rescue some!

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I think it should be the publisher’s duty to donate the books to libraries. It wouldn’t cost them anything, the books are destined for the dumpster anyway, and I’m sure libraries would be pleased to acquire books at no cost to them. Granted, I’m not saying these coverless tomes should be shelved among their covered brethren, but rather that they should have a little section of their own. What about the fact that they’re quite the eyesore, sitting there with the title page for the world to see? Fret not o’ ascetically inclined! I have that, a-hem, covered. Two words: cover contests.

That’s right, have a running contest for aspiring artists to design a cover for the books as they come in. The winners can give their designs to tech services and those mighty book doctors can fashion a shiny new covered for the stripped volumes. The benefits are widespread. Not only would publishers earn praise for donating to libraries, but they’d also get exposed to potential future cover artists; those artists, would get to pad their portfolios. Finally, libraries and their patrons would get more books! Now, I’m not naive enough to think that such a process would be without problems, but I for one think it’s at least worth trying.


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