Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why won't Borders donate hundreds of thousands of soon-to-be-trashed books sitting boxed up at Waldenbooks stores?

For weeks, we've been publicizing the fact that hundreds of thousands of books have already been destroyed by Borders during the Waldenbooks store closings. But here's an equally important fact – RIGHT NOW, there are still additional hundreds of thousands of books sitting boxed up at the closing Waldenbooks stores without recycling programs that Borders says they WILL NOT DONATE to non-profits.

Books from closing Waldenbooks store, waiting to be trashed

These mass-market books aren't part of Borders' recent gesture to donate some "non-returnable" product, which doesn't include most unsold books at Borders stores.

The mass-markets are not just romance novels, contrary to the company's spin. It's all kinds of paperbacks – best-sellers, thrillers, mysteries, sci-fi, the works. And some hardcover books, too.

All of these books will continue to be destroyed by Borders or returned to publishers for trashing, millions of books a year.

So what about all the rest of the books, Borders?

As for the hundreds of thousands of books sitting boxed up right now in backrooms at the closing Waldenbooks stores, Borders says they're waiting to find recycling programs to take them, which may be true. Some employees suspect they’ll be dumpstered anyway. Borders has been so willing to mislead the public over their handling of this issue that it's hard to know what to believe:

But even recycled, the books are still being discarded. What about re-use? If the books are being destroyed anyway, couldn't they ALL be donated? It's time to find a better way.

We repeat our call for Borders to work something out with a few big publishers so that some of these hundreds of thousands of books (even though most have been "stripped" of their front covers) could be donated instead.

Big publishers and book chains like Borders need to clean up their acts and reform the system that results in books being needlessly destroyed.


  1. My little Head Start kids and their parents need books so they will grow to be successful, I think this issue is critical to the future of literacy!

  2. When the Washington Post ran a story this past weekend on Borders trashing books, one line stuck out - "The chain (Waldenbooks), owned by Borders, had deemed them unsellables -- leftover bodice-ripping romance novels and true-crime stories."

    Why is a retailer that relies on the business of people who buy romance novels labeling the whole genre unwanted and unsellable? That makes no sense.

    But it's the same spin Borders has put on what mass-market books get thrown away since this campaign began. Like when Borders manager Julie Michalski defended the company destroying books in mid-December, posting:

    "generally the only things that get dumped are out of date travel guides and trashy romance novels with a few mysteries and sci/fi fiction"

    We'll say it again - this glosses over the fact that all kinds of paperbacks are produced as mass-markets. Many non-profits who distribute books have different uses for books of all types, and would gladly accept donations of the books Borders is trashing.