You Couldn't Give Those Away If You Tried

Just returned from a rather disheartening visit to Half Price Books. Here's the story.

Back in May, my company put together a book fair to benefit a reputable Cleveland-area charity. We had everyone in the building donate their gently used books, which we then collected, sorted, and set up for sale in the lobby. Everyone could then browse the donations and make new purchases. Every dollar we earned went to the charity, and we planned on donating all of the leftover books to their library and end-of-year yard sale.

I was so proud to say we collected over 1,358 books at the end of two weeks, and by the end of the sale, we'd made over $651 for the charity.

Unfortunately, we ran into a small problem none of us had really counted on -- but was probably, quite honestly, something we should have spent more time researching. After delivering many of the leftover books to the charity's library, they finally got overwhelmed. I was told a few weeks ago by our company liaison that the charity just couldn't accept any more. Perfectly understandable, as many of the leftovers were novels written for adults, and this is very much a child-friendly organization. Please take note, I am in no way blaming the charity for this mishap. I am just so grateful they took everything they could fit.

But what to do?

I loaded at least 100 books into my car this evening (and left an equal amount in the office), thinking Half Price would be able to turn over some quick cash for at least some of them; I could then send the money as a sort of extended donation. A quick ride and two dolly trips later, I walked out with $23. But that was only for two boxes' worth.

"What do you do with the rest?" I asked the helpful Half Price employees.

"We throw them out."


Throw them out? No! Nonononononono! The lady at Half Price said that oh yes, they get a full Dumpster pickup every other day. It breaks her heart. It breaks mine, too. Especially since the people in my building donated those books expecting to see them either sold or, well, donated. I told Half Price there was no way I was leaving those books with them, and mournfully re-loaded the boxes into my Camry.

So now I have four large stacks of books just hanging out in my backseat. It doesn't bother me that I'm going to have to find another charity to take them. I am just wondering if there is one out there that will take them. The lady at Half Price told me she couldn't accept most of the books because of 1) their condition, and 2) their popularity. Apparently, they get large influxes of popular books because so many people buy them new, then sell them when they're finished; but then those books pile up because for whatever reason no one wants to buy them used -- already outdated, I guess. I didn't think charities were supposed to be picky about that sort of thing, but now I'm not so sure. While I was making various, pleading calls today, I got the same song and dance from a lady at a hospice resale shop. She told me the books had to be in good condition, and sellable. (Well, of course they're sellable. I sold them during the book fair. Screw it, I'll just have my own yard sale and fork the money over to the original charity.)

So that's it. That's the end of my long, disheartening story. But maybe you locals can help me out: Where do I send my beloved books now? (I'm trying the public library tomorrow.)

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