Tech Talk

So we have two celebrations to celebrate, and I thought I would combine them in one blog. I am something of a whiz at packing a lot into a small space, as people who have seen my work area NEVER seem to notice, and I would like to do something similar with this bloggery.

First of all, it is coming up on April 15, that date when every red-blooded American’s heart swells with pride at the thought of sending money to dear old Uncle Sam to use for whatever Uncle Sam has in mind for it. We trust Uncle Sam ALMOST as much as we trust uncle Blogsy, and we assume he is spending the money for our very favorite purposes, be that training Navy SEALS or funding Sesame Street. We would never think of trying to wring every last deduction out of the system to lessen the amount we contribute to the cause.

Which is why Uncle Blogsy keeps getting these panicky phone calls the first two weeks in April. “You never sent me a receipt for those three banana boxes of computer manuals I gave you!” “You sent me a receipt for those six shopping bags of vampire romances but I lost it!” And, as always, “You sent me a receipt for my thirty-five videocassettes of programs I recorded off PBS, but you didn’t tell me what to deduct for them!”

If you have the receipt, strawberry bacon tart, you can read the fine print on the bottom, which points out that although yes, we are a fully authorized 501 (c ) 3 organization and you may therefore deduct your donation to the extent and in the manner allowed by law, I can NOT tell you how much to deduct. I may not assign a dollar value to your donation. I cannot even give you a value in quarters, dimes, and nickels. I am not, according to the law, even give hints.

Which brings us to the other major celebration. This is, I see, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the memo sent to the Book Fair by the Business Office of the Newberry Library suggesting a deduction of $5 per hardcover book and $1 per paperback book. I am not offering this as a hint, since I am not allowed to offer hints. I am stating a simple historical fact: that a quarter century ago, the Business Office mentioned these values to us. The values do not reflect what we sell the books for, of course: they are higher in some cases and lower in other. “Paperback book”, in particular, was not such a hazy phrase in 1989 as it is today, with the trade paperback (those are the big ones) making up such a large portion of the market.

In fact, since we shelve the trade paperback with the hardcovers (the ones of normal size), I sometimes suggest to donors that they count these as hardcovers, for receipt purposes. We charge more for the trade paperbacks than we do for the mass market (small, traditional size) paperbacks. This generally gets me a look of horror. Uncle Sam has generated such respect for the good people who collect taxes that donors honestly believe they will be caught if they claim their trade paperback of the Divine Secrets of the ya-Ya Sisterhood was a hardcover.

I don’t know why Uncle Blogsy can’t get the same amount of respect. No, I CAN’T tell you what to deduct for that apple you left in the apple crate. Nor for that shirt I found filling in an empty corner in the box of Bibles and hymnals. (The shirt wasn’t even my SIZE.)

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