This whole twenty-first century gets me down. I keep looking around for the Reset button.
When I joined this little shindig, in March of 1985, we did not have a website. I’m not sure the word had been invented yet. So we did not have a flood of people coming in to tell us, “I read your website and did it exactly the way you say you want it.”
That’s the point of the Book Fair instructions on the website, of course. But by the time they’ve explained that they packed everything in bags because we say we don’t want boxes or they’ve packed everything in boxes because we say never to use bags, I begin to wonder whether an elf slipped in an rewrote the instructions or whether I am getting thirty Whole Foods bags of books from people who are functionally illiterate.
This last week, fort example, I had two donors tell me they had thrown away a lot of books they knew we didn’t want. One threw away all his history books because he saw we didn’t want textbooks and another pitched all his nineteenth century literary magazines because we never take books that need dusting. Both these people were smiling, happy, intelligent, and mistaken.
There are things we want, things we don’t want, and things we aren’t crazy about but we’ll put them out for sale. Perhaps the website is too general. Here are some specifics to fill out the situation:
WE LIKE: Farewell to Arms.
WE ACCEPT: Old literary anthologies from your tenth grade lit class, including excerpts from Farewell To Arms
WE DON’T WANT: The Teacher’s Guide To Accompany Old Literary Anthologies From Your Tenth Grade Class
WE LIKE: Books in dust jackets
WE ACCEPT: Books with loose covers
WE DON’T WANT: Books which lost their covers so long ago that now they have a jacket made of dust
WE LIKE: DVDs of Glee
WE ACCEPT: Betamax tapes of Lawrence Welk
WE DON’T WANT: The cassettes from your old answering machine
WE LIKE: The postcards you picked up on your trip to France
WE ACCEPT: The beer mats you picked up on your trip to Germany
WE DON’T WANT: The prescriptions you picked up on your trip to the podiatrist
WE LIKE: Mistress of Mellyn in hardcover
WE ACCEPT: Mistress of Mellyn in hardcover with pages folded down, a love poem inside the front cover, and a rose pressed at page 266 since 1967
WE DON’T WANT: Mistress of Mellyn in Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, EVEN IF the dust jacket is in great shape
WE LIKE: A leatherbound copy of Gone With the Wind which smells like a catcher’s mitt
WE ACCEPT: A battered copy of Lace II that’s been sitting in the basement so long it smells like damp concrete and sacks of Kitty Litter
WE DON’T WANT: That copy of Bridges of Madison County which has been sitting in the basement until it has the color of garden mulch, the consistency of angelfood cake, and the odor of a Junior High gymbag
I hope these guidelines are helpful. This hope will last until the first customer arrives with a banana box of books and says “I threw away everything that wasn’t moldy because I read on your website that you like dirty books.”