The joys of a good (pre-loved) book

THERE isn’t much we can be sure of in this Covid-ridden year, and all that listening to experts and politicians tells us is that we cannot depend on vacillating pontification.

So what DO we know? On the balance of probabilities we’ll be spending the greater part of the winter months at home, with outings a treat rather than the norm.

Our first brush with the pandemic showed many of us the “joys” of cleaning, tidying, sorting, rationalising our possessions, catching up on viewing, learning the new tekkie skills that allowed us maximum connection with friends and family, painting, carpentry, gardening …… and READING.

With some of these activities completed, what does the next semi-isolated tranche of time promise? We’ve been thinking a lot about reading and books in the past few weeks, mainly because we are helping a friend to dispose of the many thousands of books her father bought, read and then stored. Lots of them are in excellent condition – far too good to consign to the tip. So we researched the possible ways to pass them on to new readers.

Of course, Coronavirus reared its ugly little crown-like spikes and changed all the T and Cs for the companies buying used books (and DVDs and CDs). Now every sold item (that’s every CD!) has to be separately wrapped, and put in a box. It used to be “any box will do” but now the items must fit into the box without any gaps – no movement, no rattling. You only get to these fascinating facts right at the end of the process to complete the sales.

If you have thousands of books, CDs or DVDs, you would spend hours and hours preparing them for collection (still free) and get about 10p for each (not counting the Harry Potter first edition you are hoping to find). It is just not a possible solution unless you are living in the house you are trying to get ready to sell and have infinite time on your hands.

This is by way of a plea to ask you to buy your winter 2020-21 reading matter from your local charity shop or second hand bookshop. Readers will have already discovered that the many hundreds of new books delayed by the lockdown will be on the shelves in Sep­tember, and, for the sake of the writers and the booksellers, we hope you will buy and read them. But if you could find the book you are seeking in a “carefully read” selection, set yourself a quest to find it.

Less waste and less landfill and just as inspiring, satisfying, instructive, beautiful and page-turning as a brand new one, and it will benefit a hard-pressed charity or help an independent bookseller who is as keen as you to make sure we don’t throw away perfectly good books just because we can’t find anything else to do with them.

Gay Pirrie-Weir