Thursday, August 20, 2009

Keeping the Books Alive

When hard times hit the economy, a widespread panic ensued in the publishing industry, as it did everywhere. People were laid off, companies were re-structured, some even dissolved completely. The growing fear that “books are dying,” especially the ones that are bound and printed old-school style, quickly escalated to dramatic proportions. While there has certainly been a significant decline in book sales, with major buyers cutting their orders, independent bookstores being forced to close their doors, and consumers leaning toward the cheaper and wildly popular e-books, the reaction has been a little out-of-hand in this blogger’s opinion. People love to read, and despite pinching pennies, they’ll always find a way to get their hands on the newest books in the market.

Try used books for starters. It’s been a trend of late to sell back and donate books in good condition to booksellers (like the Strand and HousingWorks in NYC, and the Salvation Army to name a few), where consumers can then purchase books a cost much lower than their price points. Then there are the not-so-well-known book swap websites, such as Paperback Swap, where people all over the country can swap, trade, and exchange books for FREE. Well, minus the cost for postage to mail a book off, but we’re talking minimal fee here, my friends. And if that’s too much for you, remember there are still those little things called libraries.

And then there’s my new favorite—drum roll please—Choose What You Read NY. As far as I know, this program is specific to New York City, but it has great potential to spread to major cities nationwide. CWYR is a non-profit book exchange that’s found its home in and around subway stops in the city. On the first Tuesday of every month, volunteers for CWYR are giving out donated books, just as the MTA gives out free Metros and AM New Yorks. There are three drop boxes in the city for readers to donate a book he or she has just read or it can be returned to the station on the specified date. All CWYR asks is that when you take a book to read, you drop it back off so someone else can enjoy it too!

Books dying? Come on! Just look at the fresh new ways to spread the book love!

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