Fifty shades of furniture?

British media recently reported that charity shops (which, if my husband’s aunt and uncle’s town Hayward’s Heath is anything to go by, seem to be on nearly every street), which do a brisk trade in used popular books, cannot get rid of the glut of Fifty Shades of Grey. The books can’t be recycled because of the type of glue in the binding. And recently the library where I work discovered that the charity which used to take our unsold sale books and discards will no longer pick them up.

My friend Manda sent me this cool article today from WebEcoist, about ways books can be made into “furniture and functional decor.” Check out this bookstore counter. I think discards would make a very novel library service desk!

The piece also suggests making chairs and sofas, bookcases, and accessories (even planters!) from old books. This would seem to solve the “what to do with 5.3 million copies of Fifty Shades” problem, and also the trouble libraries have with both budget cuts and discards. Also with space issues: what library doesn’t occasionally wish they could re-arrange service desks? Built in sections, these counters could be re-fit when needed.

When I visited Austin, Texas a couple of springs ago I enjoyed the library system’s shop, Recycled Reads. They offer craft classes on upcycling and also sell recrafted books at the shop:

Imagine what you could charge for a book chair.  So maybe this is an untapped revenue stream as well. I wonder if we put out a call for crafty volunteers whether we could auction off a set of  book furniture to benefit the library?

I for one would bid!

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A traveler’s tales

My family visited England and France with our son, who’d been in England on a Gap Year. Our 11 day whirlwind tour included London, Milton Keynes/Bletchley Park, Paris, Bath, Hayward’s Heath (West Sussex), and Brighton. Two days after we returned, my daughter and I headed to Washington, D.C. for a homeschool version of the 8th grade pilgrimmage to our nation’s capital, plus a visit with her young cousins, aunt, and uncle.

Along the way, I tried to note what people are reading and how. American and British readers have embraced Ipads and Kindles, although many are playing games rather than reading. I saw roughly 50% e-readers versus books.

In Paris, people were reading actual books. The parks were of French and international readers. An afternoon event at Shakespeare and Company drew a small crowd. I didn’t see a single e-reader all day.

In both the London Underground and the Paris Metro, poster-size ads for books were as prevalent as those for shows or films. Many of the London ads were for literary fiction. Fiction was the top choice of readers on trains and planes; people on e-readers are harder to spy on. I saw lots of adults reading The Hunger Games.

Train station and airport shops are heavily promoting the Fifty Shades of Grey books. In England, Diamond Jubilee titles celebrating Queen Elizabeth and books about the Olympics are also prominent. In Holland Park, where we stayed, Daunt Books had an enticing window filled with books I recognized and some I didn’t, and inside, one of the best selections of travel titles I’ve ever seen.

I visited a Waterstones, England’s biggest chain (which just agreed to carry Kindles). The staff there was knowledgeable and the display included some local authors and staff picks. Everything was clearly designed to feel like an independent store.

I also enjoyed popping into some of the ubiquitous charity shops selling used books (Oxfam, for example) and a half-price remainders bookshop in Bath. I wish I’d had time to check out libraries as well. In fact, I could plan an entire trip around libraries and bookstores . . . .