The Strand Bookstore pays the homeless handsomely for their troubles. Owner Fred Bass tells Al Jazeera how this section of society has been instrumental to the success of his business.
Hundreds of men and a smaller number of women eke out a living scavenging books in Manhattan, according to Mitchell Duneier, author of “Sidewalk,” a book about the subculture of sidewalk book scavengers and vendors. Some of them sell their books on the street; others, the less entrepreneurial, or the more impatient, go for the surefire cash at the Strand.
Is there any other industry in which such high-quality goods regularly make their way to consumers via a trash bin? Stand in the bookselling line at the Strand and the store starts to feel less like a dusty bastion of erudition and more like a messy, mulchy place where old ideas struggle to find new life.
Even in better days than these for books, the economy of publishing was bloated, based on guesswork, mercurial taste and the talents of people whose keenest interests rarely included making money. Book recycling in Manhattan is just the opposite, a perfectly efficient system with no fat at all: So many discarded books go from someone’s garbage to a scavenger to a bookseller and, often enough, land gently in someone else’s home. Feel guilty, if you must, for never finishing Tony Judt’s “Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945;” but don’t feel guilty for chucking it. It will most likely live to haunt someone else’s bedside table. It will find a new home.(from NYtimes)
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