Okay, kids, I promised I’d blog about bags I wish you wouldn’t use to bring me books. The bags I like are solidly constructed shopping bags with reliable handles. The ones I don’t like are more interesting and come in several varieties. I am prompted by the anonymous donation of a large number of nice books in big, heavy-duty leaf bags. So….
1. Heavy-Duty Leaf Bags: I include in this category all garbage bags of lesser construction. These bags don’t allow any support for the books which, internally, damages the books and, externally, makes the bag sploob all over the floor instead of sitting up like a well-behaved bag. This causes extra angst on the part of those who think the Book fair takes up too much space with its bags already.
2. Paper Bags With Paper Handles: Must walk carefully, Pilgrim: they’re sponsoring us this year. Nice though these bags may be on first use (and they’re really, really nice and so are the outfits that make use of them), when reused for books, the handles tend to pull off, generally when I’m halfway to the door with ‘em. This is bad for my back and bad for your bag, which often tears apart on its way to the stack with the other bags. (The bags sometimes need to be stacked up. I’ve been thinking of doing one of those “Follow The Book Through Processing” blogs, but some days it just feels too too junior high school documentary film.)
3. Bags Without Handles: These are less trouble than the other two, oddly enough, but really.
4. Bags Previously Used For Organic Purposes: We’re kind of back to leaf bags, here, but you’d be surprised. Do you know that, over the years, we’ve had books come in in bags that have been used for leaves, bags that have been used to transport potting soil, bags that have been used to transport grass from lawnmower clippings….
5. Bags Where You Should Just Know Better: One man called and said he was sending his book collection in a hundred bags. We cleared space and waited. The collection–honest!–came to us in one hundred bread bags. That’s as in the bag from the loaf of bread, do you understand? I still don’t. He had exactly two books in each bag, and had wrapped one of the two in each pair in a vegetable bag. This was almost helpful, as he had also packed one moldy book and one clean book in each bag.
In the world of second-hand literature, one sometimes just has to take one’s hat off in the presence of greatness. But I got funny looks from the fellow who takes the trash out.