One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

17th May

Are all books created equal?

My Aunt recently told me about an online bookstore called Better World Books. As their name suggests, they have the admirable goal of creating a better world by supporting literacy programs from the sale of new and used books.

Intrigued, I went straight to their website and, ever the social economist, was fascinated to read about their "triple bottom line" where they state:

"Of course, our greatest contribution of all is finding homes for books. We've even heard horror stories about librarians dumping unwanted tomes down a well at midnight because they couldn't find a good home for them."

The vivid image of that troubled librarian at witching hour got me to thinking. What if the books she (I'd rather imagine a woman, but this is just personal preference) were committing to a dark and watery grave were last seasons' catalogues from IKEA or back issues of an atrocious tabloid rag? Would it really be possible to find a good home for these "books"?
Maybe you would like to imagine the ill-fated tomes were copies of Mein Kampf - would that make what she was doing "less wrong"?

It seems impossible to escape the conclusion that leaving some 10-year-old Wisconsin telephone directories at the bottom of the well might make more sense than trying to find them a good home in a far-flung african village, but the ramifications are terrifying.

From the outside, all books are pretty much the same, just a bunch of pages bound between two covers. How is it possible then, that the mere choice and ordering of these words can make one book seem more worthy of preserving than another?

I wonder which books the librarian did actually throw down the well on that fateful night? In the eerie light of a full moon we might not be able to tell whether she was throwing copies of the Bible or copies of the Qur'an, but should that make a difference?

By the way, if anyone is interested I have a copy of the 2008 Yellow Pages - free to a good home, offer stands until midnight.