Many years ago, when I worked for a publisher, the staff used to be allowed to go down to the dump bin at lunchtime and help themselves to books. There was nothing wrong with these books, they were just a little shop-worn and so couldn't be re-sold. The rule was that you were allowed five books per day, but seriously, who in their right mind would stick to a "rule" like that? I, like everybody else, amassed quite a collection; helping myself to impressive-looking tomes I had no interest in reading just in case I ever found myself with a store selling second-hand books. Well, that day has finally come, but I don't have any of those books left. You see, in the intervening 12 years, I've moved house three times; and each time, I've divested myself of as many possessions as possible before packing my boxes. Also, each of those times, opening a store hasn't even remotely been on the horizon. But at 36, I've entered a new stage of life, with its own source of books. Some of my friends' parents are now downsizing, or putting their names on waiting lists for serviced apartments or rooms in retirement homes. These people don't fancy taking 30 years' worth of books with them, and are only too happy for someone to come along and cart them away. The only "price" I have to pay is to stick around for a cup of tea and a biscuit on the day in question; and in all honestly, most of the time - with most of these people - I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.
|Image via Oxfam Bookshop, Petersgate York|