THE BLOG

Trashgate: Borders Dumping Books, Stop the Waste

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As an avid reader, books are a sacred thing. They have opened up so many new worlds for me. Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson may have rarely left their respective homes in Haworth, England and Amherst, Massachusetts. But thanks to books, their words went all over the world. And over 100 years later, I got to know them and their powerful prose. I met Coco Chanel the same way, by pouring over books about her life, her collections and her perfumes.

As illiteracy rates soar worldwide, I believe more books are needed to reach those who can't afford them to help open new worlds for others. That is why I am distressed to learn that Borders books may be dumping books when closing its Waldenbooks Specialty Retail group. Publisher's Weekly reports that Borders Group will shut approximately 200 outlets this January. I understand that businesses are struggling and stores are closing, but what happens when a bookstore goes down? Apparently, the books are discarded. Back in 2009, Waldenbooks employees spoke to Huffington Post: "Current Waldenbooks employees have come forward to alert the public that the company plans to dispose of many unsold books in the cheapest, easiest, least responsible way possible -- by trashing them."

Pictured: Discarded books in a waste management dumpster

Check out the Facebook group called "Tell BORDERS: DO NOT DUMPSTER BOOKS when Waldenbooks closes - DONATE!" Discarded books could find homes at libraries, homeless shelters, senior centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, and at numerous charities. Let's see if Borders will respond as H&M did last week to stop needless waste. I hope so. I am publishing this post to make the public aware of this and try to save a few precious books.

Borders, the ghost of the Brontes and Emily Dickinson are calling! And do you really want to deal with Edgar Allen Poe too? I see The Raven circling Waldenbooks now and tapping, tapping," From my books surcease of sorrow -- Nameless here for evermore."

Pictured: Edgar Allen Poe. Clearly, someone not to be "trifled" with :)

My sources tell me that Poe is very powerful and that his words are positively haunting. His voice is chilling. I would not want to deal with his wrath. Don't throw out his writings or beware for evermore!

Addendum: Borders is not the only bookseller or book chain to face allegations of dumping books. According to writer Erik Ose: Over the past few years, local TV stations have reported on dumpsters full of trashed books behind places like a Barnes & Noble in Dallas, and a B. Dalton Bookseller closing down in Ohio. Yet there is surprisingly little consumer awareness of how the publishing industry's outdated business model results in unsold books literally being thrown away. By shipping books to retailers on consignment terms, thus allowing the return of unsold merchandise, the publishing industry operates unlike all other manufacturers. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of books are returned by bookstores annually. Between 65 and 95 percent of returned books are pulped - destroyed by publishers. (Source: The Latest Outrage Blog)