• http://greeneyedcity.blogspot.com greeneyedcity

    Plus, many chain booksellers tear the covers off the books so that dumpster divers cannot resell the books. So, what doesn’t get sold heads to the landfill and impossible to recirculate.

    • http://thelatestoutrage.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-wont-borders-donate-their-soon-to.html thelatestoutrage

      Here’s the link to the Facebook campaign:


      • http://greenupgrader.com Matt Embrey

        We did link to it in the article.

    • Joe the bookman

      That is not why they tear covers off. Publishers require bookstores to send back the front cover only for unsold books, so they can give credit to the bookstore. Yes, books without the front covers are not to be sold, and won’t be by reputable sellers. But, that does not stop folks from selling them on the street, yard sales, etc…

  • Bookseller

    It’s not just closing stores that do this. Publishing companies regularly dispose of overruns and unsold books fromtheir backlist in a similar manner. There isn’t enough storage space for all the unsold printed matter that exists. When you call or write Borders, call or write the major publishers at the same time!

    • http://greeneyedcity.blogspot.com greeneyedcity

      Oh! Great point, and something I had not known. Revaluation of sourcing and resourcing, as well as forging partnerships with recyclers would go a long way. Municipal recycling trucks already make special trips for retail businesses. I’d like to see more done with book and magazine sellers. That includes bookstores, convenience stores, and fillup stations.

  • richard

    This is not something a bookstore has much control over. When a bookstore tears the cover off a book, they send that cover back to the publisher of the book and receive a credit for that book not being sold. Due to space restrictions and costs of shipping, publishers do not want the entire book back, just the cover. Financially, bookstores have no other option, it’s either donate the book and lose money or strip the cover to send back and get a credit.

    • http://greeneyedcity.blogspot.com greeneyedcity

      I guess what I’m saying is (and it goes without saying, I’m sure): there needs to be a systemic change in the way that these companies handle their waste.

      I understand the whole process of crediting retailers by seeing proof of the book covers that were not sold. What I’m talking about is a push for change in what they do with these books *after* the covers are torn off, and sent back to the publishers. This can be done without changing that protocol. It may come down to a policy precedent set, as many cities strive to reduce net carbon emissions using benchmarks.

      • richard

        What is supposed to be done with the books is also under contract with the publishers. The stores are required (although rarely do) tear the books into two vertically down the binding, disposing of each half in separate boxes or bins to prevent someone from gathering the books and selling them without any financial profit to the publisher. I agree with you that something needs to change with this policy from the publishers, but it’s out of the hands of the bookstores.

        • Adam

          I can understand that book stores are under contracts with the publishers, but it still makes no sense that they can’t dump them in the recycle bin rather than the trash bin. Either way the books are being destroyed. If everybody just keeps blaming everybody else up the chain, nobody ever ends up taking responsibility.

          • Natalie Shannon

            they could donate the books to local libraries or to the local YWCA. In my town the YWCA holds a used books sale at the mall to benefit the Literacy Foundation! What Borders is doing is such a waste!

  • http://thelatestoutrage.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-wont-borders-donate-their-soon-to.html thelatestoutrage

    Interesting that Borders isn’t making the argument that publishers are to blame. Instead, as this story points out, their response to 3,500+ customers and book lovers raising questions has been to claim “we will not be disposing of product as a result of the Waldenbooks store closures” (from a 12/24 post by Borders spokesperson Mary Davis on the FB campaign’s page). Yet according to employees, they’re still trashing books.

    Sure, the publishing industry’s whole system needs to be reformed. But the reality is that Borders is a nationwide chain bookseller with nearly 1000 locations, and has enough clout with publishers to find a way to work something out so that some books could be donated instead of destroyed.

    And as the ones carrying out the actual destruction of many books, retailers have a responsibility as well as publishers to end this wasteful business practice. It’s big chains like Borders who are the primary culprits – independent bookstores order smarter, return far fewer books to publishers, and do not regularly trash unsold books.

    Join the campaign on Facebook, help stop the madness!

  • Kane

    Borders has owned Walden for years so there’s nothing recent about their acquisition. Also it’s highly unlikely that they won’t be able to liquidate most of their inventory. They will either resell it to publishers, amazon, barnes and noble, or stock them in borders stores. They would sell these books even if they were only selling them for cents to the dollar of what they paid for them. Trust me I’m in the publishing business. You don’t really have to worry about these books ending up in the dumpster.

    • http://greeneyedcity.blogspot.com greeneyedcity

      They’re already ending up in the dumpster. That’s why were discussing it. B Dalton, Waldenbooks, Borders, Barnes & Noble. You name it, they pitch ‘em.

      Working at a mall record store, a few years ago, the neighboring B Dalton would trash hundreds of books. Every week.

    • http://thelatestoutrage.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-wont-borders-donate-their-soon-to.html thelatestoutrage

      Okay, then explain this 1/8 post from a Borders employee on the iworkatborders LiveJournal blog:

      “Where Borders excels, however, is in making a bad situation worse. Now, in addition to stripping & returning the covers to the publisher for credit, we are shipping the guts of the book back to the DC (distribution centers), at considerable expense, so that the books may be dumpstered away from the prying eyes of HuffPost readers. Extra payroll for packing already destroyed books, extra shipping charges, fuel use, etc. Sounds like a WIN to me!”

      Kudos to greenUPGRADER for helping get the truth about this out there. Borders has instructed employees to keep stripping covers and sending them, along with the rest of the stripped books, back in separate boxes. So contrary to what they’ve told the public, the company is still ordering employees to destroy books, but hiding their disposal from public view (where the books might be found by TV news crews in store dumpsters). News flash – they’re lying!

      Furthermore, they’re putting a real burden on the already overworked employees of the closing Waldenbooks stores, creating enormous pressure on them to dumpster some books anyway to save time and labor (“I dumpstered 400 mass markets Monday night. Has anyone been boxing up and returning them, and how much space/time/materials does it eat up?” – 1/7 post from Borders employee, also from the iworkatborders LiveJournal blog).

  • http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2010/01/14/the-p-funk-mothership/ Robert Lamb

    Or at least let me root around in the piles before they trash them. It can’t all be “Lotus 1 2 3″ in there.


    • jupiter9

      That “Lotus 1 2 3″ book makes me suspect they may all be crap from a back room.

  • Ugly American

    The root cause of this is the dysfunctional income tax system.

    Books, clothes, food and even medicine destroyed is 100% tax deductible in this tax year. Goods sold result in income tax and goods held are subject to inventory tax.

    It is the government’s fault people do this.

    We should transition back to consumption, import & property taxes. Before anyone screams regressive, you should realize that property ownership is way more concentrated than income and it was the ultra rich who got taxes moved from property to income so they could keep their property and nobody could ever get ahead.

    • http://glueandglitter.com/ Becky Striepe

      That is very interesting! Do you know if the inventory tax applies to donated goods, as well?

  • http://greenupgrader.com Matt Embrey

    I think there’s three major barriers to making more productive use of these books (eg. recycling or donating them):

    1. As a couple people already pointed out, these books are owned by the publishers and the books stores are under contract to dispose of them (usually in a way that makes them unreadable).

    2. Even if the publishers contract allows for the book store to recycle them, every city is different and every book is different, so it’s hard to find an efficient mechanism for recycling the books.

    3. Even when there is a way to recycle them, the people in charge of disposing of the books are lazy and it’s easier to throw them in the dumpster.

    That being said I think that this is an area where book readers voices will be heard if they get loud enough. Changes will have to be made on both the store level, the Borders corporate level and at the publishers. More comprehensive recycling programs would also be helpful.

  • Lyn

    That I didn’t realize the immensity of this waste, I’m almost ashamed to admit. Why in Heavens name do they not donate the books to all the thrid world countries that are crying out for books!?

    Being an avid bibliophile, I am appaled at not only the waste of all those books filled with someone’s hard work, but the trees that were cut down, for what!? Surely there’s something that can be done at this time at least? Donate to libraries, schools, countries in need, offer them for “adoption”, if not sold.

  • Kasa

    The destruction of books is shameful, when this nation has kids, of varying ages, and adults who simply cannot afford to buy books.

    Donate them to libraries, or TheLiteracySite.com, or some-where that it will benefit people, instead of enlarging our air pollution and increase trash.

  • http://www.author-author.org Juli

    This kind of thing has been going on since I was in high school — I used to work in the book dept. at K-Mart and whenever we got a new shipment of paperbacks, we also got a lit of which titles to pull off the rack. I usually had a shopping cart full, sometimes two. I tore the covers off the books to get credit from the distributor, and then had to throw away the coverless books. I begged the store manager to let me take a boxful or two to a local nursing home and hospital, because like you, I believe it’s a crime to throw perfectly good books away. Moreso than donating them to entities here in the U.S., think of all the nations in the world where these books would not just be welcomed, but cherished.

  • Quentin

    I work for Border’s and there is a dumpster list that is published every month, sometimes more, that every store has to follow. You are required to locate all items on the list, scan them into the system and state the quantity of that item. You then are told to damage the item before throwing it in the dumpster.

    A few months ago an email was sent out from the corporate office stating that no dumpster items were to be donated to charity. Stores must damage and throw out all merchandise.

    This is not just the practice of closing stores, this is the practice of all Borders stores. Whether it be magazines, books, cd’s/dvd’s, gifts and stationary, nothing is allowed to be donated. We aren’t even allowed to keep dumpster items for use in the stores, like pens, tape, ext. Last week I had to dumpster close to $15,000 of gift and stationary items in one store. The majority of items I boxed up included pens, pencils, blank journals and art supplies, any of which I’m sure public schools are in need of.

    Yet the corporate office can require us to ask every customer who is buying something if they would like to donate $8.00 to buy a bag of coffee to send to our troops. I don’t understand how they can expect our customers to donate their money when Border’s as a company refuses to donate any of their merchandise to charity.

  • Uncle B

    You can’t stop this! It is corporate law in America! The same law that allowed Ford to sell me a death-trap Pinto in 1973! They are defending the shareholders! This is why Capitalism works so well! Even food in a starving nation is destroyed daily, dumpster divers know this and illustrate all to well that their practice is considered a form of theft under the law, no matter how empty their stomachs are! Guaranteed rights of shareholders not to lose money at all costs! Capitalism at its finest moment! Remember: We are the same bunch of bastards that sold Indians small-pox infested blankets and stole their lands! No time for Altruism, no Church morality, just kill or be killed! To expose this to the Altruist flag wavers in America, Google, torrent, the movie, “Who Killed The Electric Car”. This is and object lesson of the power of corporatists and the morals behind everything American. I ask you now, Do you honestly believe we are in Afghanistan for Altruistic purposes, or is that the “Popular Propaganda? Fact: we are clearing the way for a Halliburton(Dubai) pipe-dream that will eventually run light sweet crude oil from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Israel, across the Mediterranean and into New York Harbor! The Afghans will share nothing! The oil is for us! not them! Get real, book buying altruists! Capitalism rules the world, always did, always will!

  • http://greeneyedcity.blogspot.com greeneyedcity

    Okay, greenupgrader. I think it’s time to lock the comments. There was a good exchange going, until today. Now it’s just as inane as you see on newspaper websites.

  • Pingback: Meddling Kids Attempt to Thwart Book Trashing – The Blogs at HowStuffWorks

  • anonynouse

    Home Depot trashes tons of pefectly good stuff everyday. Only recently did they even start a donation program and it is barely used. I have seen perfectly good items-multiples of many-from each and every department in the stores go right into the dumpster. Such a colossal waste when things could go to a number of places that could use them like Habitat for Humanity, schools, shelters. Borders is not the only retailer that is wasteful and irresponsible.

  • http://www.book-recycling.com brett Bringardner

    I run http://www.book-recycling.com, borders will not return our phone calls.

    We recycle books for libraries universities and bookstores, they can still get in touch.

  • grob

    Stop going after Borders for this…Publishers print far more books than they need and every bookseller does this from Amazon to Barnes and Nobles to your favorite independent.

    They do this because the publishers mandate that they do so. Borders CANNOT donate these books and even if they could they’d be cheating authors out of royalties.

  • Pingback: Beyond Borders Bookstore: Big Waste in the Book Industry | Earth and Industry

  • Liz

    The covers are torn off for space purposes when shipping back, but if you read one of the first pages, it says that if the cover is missing, the book is considered stolen property and is illegal to sell because the publisher didn’t get paid for it. Borders thinks that if they donate the books, their sales will go down because whoever would have bought them wont now because they can get it for free somewhere. And if some dumpster diver sells it, the customer who might have gone to Borders now can get a book cheaper from the diver. I hate this policy, and it’s not just books. Borders’ Paperchase section sells gifts and decorative items. After Christmas we literally had to destroy any items we couldn’t sell. I smashed glass ornaments into bits for about half an hour straight. And if I were to take anything, I’d be stealing. Also, the dumpsters are always locked, unlike in the photo, so the only way you can salvage the books is to go to the land fill, I guess.

    It is terrible, but for just a moment, consider that their sales would take a hit if they donated the books or left the dumpsters open. Fewer people would buy new books from them, and if they had to ship the donated books, this would cost them. Even shipping them to outlet stores would cost more than it’s worth. Borders is in financial trouble right now (which is why they are closing Walden). They are struggling to keep the company afloat and all of their people employed (yes, including me). I don’t think they want to take any chances financially. I HATE this waste, but I’d also hate to see the thousands of people who work for Borders loose their jobs.

  • baba

    One word….RECYCLE???????

  • baba


  • http://beddingsetsalebedsheets.co.cc Bedding set sale bed sheets

    One word….RECYCLE??????? Help the world ?????

  • http://www.nooblue.com SEO

    Oh ! Municipal recycling trucks already make special trips for retail businesses.

    Thank you !

  • http://diet.thaipaparazzi.net/ ลดความอ้วน

    Municipal recycling trucks already make special trips for retail businesses.


  • http://www.mteamwork.com/ โมนาวี

    Recycle is good solution to safe to world.

  • http://www.thaimlm.net ThaiMlM

    My office just have migrated a paper document to e-document..

    So we can save the world!!


  • http://snowblowers-for-sale.blogspot.com snow blowers on sale

    Thank you for great information. I will come back to your website again. Thanks you very much.

  • http://www.thaimnv.net ThaiMNV

    Very very good information in your blog.. Thanks for your share

  • http://monawee.com/ monavie

    Good,the customer who might have gone to Borders now can get a book cheaper from the diver. I hate this policy

  • Barb

    This isn’t a new thing. It might suck, but almost all bookstores have to do this. It’s kind of pro-forma, unfortunately. It would be nice to donate the books, but legally, they can’t. Or something similar to that. It’s been too long, but I know it had something to do with copyrights and $$ being exchanged. What needs to happen is the laws regarding this need to change, which will take the authors getting behind that change. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, unfortunately, because like I said, it has to do with $$.

  • Pingback: 6 Reasons We’re In Another ‘Book-Burning’ Period in History | Chib

  • Pingback: 世界が第二の焚書時代を迎えた6つの理由(2) - 増田まとめ