The Barnes & Noble bags have undergone a redesign.
An illustration on one side depicts the Great White Whale diving into the opening paragraph of Moby Dick. (“Call me Ishmael.”) On the flip side, Huckleberry Finn sits against a tree and smokes a pipe. (“You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sayer; but that ain’t no matter.”)
The good news: they’re pretty.
The bad news: they’re plastic.
“They’re not destroying the ozone layer,” said my go-to air pollution control engineer friend. “See that HDPE triangle? That stands for High Density Polyethylene. Yes, they are made from petroleum. That’s oil. That causes pollution. But this plastic is recyclable. And there are also issues with paper.”
The B&N bag says, PLEASE REUSE OR RECYCLE AT A PARTICIPATING STORE. I hope my local store participates.
Meanwhile, I must remember to say I don’t need a bag. We already have a drawer full of plastic bags to return to stores.
THE PENNY DREADFUL SCENE ONLINE.
Okay, they’re not really penny dreadfuls.
Do you every buy used books for a penny at Amazon?
In recent months, I have paid a penny for a used hardback of Carolyn Heilbrun’s Writing a Woman’s Life and a paperback of Iris Murdoch’s The Nice and the Good. Both were in good shape. The trick is to know who is a reliable bookseller.
As far as my husband knows, every book I buy costs a penny. “I got a deal on that,” I say when a package arrives.
The shipping cost is $3.99, so a penny book actually costs $4. Still, that is very cheap when you’re able to track down a book you want but are not able to buy locally.
How do stores make money off penny books?
On April 14, The Guardian ran an excellent article on the subject. Calum Marsh reports that some of the huge online stores, like Thrift Books, cart away truck loads of books from Goodwill, public libraries, and charity shops. They sift through the piles and find some valuable books, sell others for a penny, and pulp the junk. They make only a few cents on penny books, but it is profitable if their volume is great.
The English bookseller Colin Stephens, founder and director of Sunrise Books, sends two vans out every day to charity shops to collect their unwanted used books. Stephens got his start in a very peculiar way. He
was thumbing through a charity shop’s bookshelf when the manager told him how much she’d come to hate used books. Every few days, she complained, she would have to load the trunk of her car with the shop’s excess donations and shuttle them to the landfill, in her own spare time and at her own expense
So that’s where penny books come from.
It’s frightening how many books there are in the world, and also scary how many end up in landfill. You’re definitely right about the trick being knowing who to trust – there are certain sellers I won’t go anywhere near! Having said that, I lucked out with a lovely copy of a second hand book which arrived yesterday – £1 plus the £2.80 postage we have here and it was in fab condition. I wish all sellers were like this!
Oh, congrats! I do love getting a bargain book. There are many booksellers with consciences, and I buy from them again and again. Occasionally I run into someone who sends out books in what I call “unacceptable-to-me” condition, but it usually works out.
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Oddly enough, just after I wrote my comment I had a nasty dirty book arrived that had been described as “Good” – it’s gone back….
Oh no! I’m so sorry. I hate when that happens. Well, we just package them up and off to the P.O.! Good for you!
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Better World Books has a drop box in a big box store lot near me in Birmingham and I have been tempted to “dumpster dive” in it when i see bags poking out of the top. or when i see bags just abandoned around it when the box is too full for more and needs a pick up. after all if they are on the ground they’re abandoned, right? it encourages me to go ahead and start weeding my collection so that maybe a part of it can go to where it’s really wanted and not to a drop box or a thrift store. Its time to start now while we still have strength! I have seen my mom struggle with her accumulated “stuff” and its a disheartening sight.
Gina, I love Better World Books. LOL, dumpster-diving for books. They do seem to have almost everything, don’t they? And they do evaluate their books fairly and I’ve never once been burned by them! It’s hard to weed, but I’m usually glad to do it. Sometimes I buy back the book I weed which makes no sense but there it is!
I recycle books to and from local library book sales. It is possible to come home with a bag full I can’t wait to read. Yet, think of all the ones I don’t buy — tables loaded with books no one wanted then or wants now. There must be a special refuse pile for books by out of office politicians justifying everything they ever did.
I do buy 1-cent books, after carefully checking the condition notes and the seller’s reputation. I figure they must clear as much as a dollar a book out of the shipping cost.
Nancy, yes, there are so many books at library sales! I wonder what does happen to books they don’t sell after five or six sales. I often pick up old books, but often people look for the newest.
Usually the penny books do work out for me, though I did complain very loudly about a paperback that had glitter glued on the oover and a broken spine. I got a refund, and they told me to keep the book. I threw it in the trash.