I couldn’t find any numbers for books alone, but about 54.3 million tons of paper and paper fill American landfills every year. Among that 54 million tons are countless libraries worth of books that could be kept in circulation instead of weighing down our waste infrastructure.
When you buy used books, you don’t just help keep them out of landfills; you also help preserve our natural resources. It is estimated that 24 trees are needed to produce one ton of virgin printing paper.
Used book stores are such a part of the fabric of American life that it is easy to forget that they are as important environmental centers, as important as newer (and therefore more visible) reuse centers like TerraCycle in Trenton.
Save the environment. Support your used bookstores.
Used books improve education by providing low-cost options to fill a home with books.
Not only are used bookstores already a fraction of the cost of new bookstores, some (Classics in Trenton NJ for example) provide books for FREE for local kids. You don’t get lower-cost than that!
What impact does having books in the homes of kids have? Especially books in the homes of low-resourced families in struggling school districts like Trenton?
The following is from “ScienceDirect – Research in Social Stratification and Mobility : Family scholarly culture and education”
Only 40% of children from bookless homes with unschooled parents can be expected to finish Year 9, compared to 88% of children with unschooled but book-rich parents, a huge 48 percentage point advantage.
A home library is also a big advantage in getting children through high school, for illiterate and university educated parents alike. For unschooled parents, the advantage of a large home library is 33 percentage points, about the same as the 37 point advantage for primary educated parents, 40 for incomplete secondary parents, 41 for parents with high school education, and 38 for university educated parents.
Classics Used and Rare Book in Trenton (117 South Warren) has consistently handed out over $4,000 in FREE books every year to Trenton kids through their Books at Home Program.
Support education. Support your used bookstores.
Far more than other businesses, used bookstores are meeting grounds for the community to meet and discuss matters of community importance and then taking action. Random collections of customers at Classics Used and Rare Books, for example, have volunteered to help restore a vandalized mural, provided back-to-school backpacks for foster kids, and knitted helmet liners for soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
In addition, used bookstores, far more than other businesses, provide space for community groups to meet. Classics in Trenton, for example, has opened their space for Peoples and Stories, BOOST, the Urban Studies Group, the Trenton Scrabble Club, the Trenton Kids Books Club, Trenton Knit and Stitch and other community groups.
Support your community. Support your used bookstores.
Arts and Letters
Used bookstores are on the vanguard of supporting regional authors with booksigning opportunities and consignment sales to which chain bookstores can be insensitive. In addition, cutting-edge used bookstores, like Classics in Trenton, find ways to offer additional support. Classics published the Trenton Review, which features Trenton artists, authors and subjects including Pulitzer Prize-winning Trenton poet Yusef Komunyakaa and the infamous Trenton rock hall, City Gardens.
Support local arts and letters. Support your used bookstores.
Like they do in supporting local authors, used bookstores are far more receptive to selling products of local business people. Nowhere besides Classics, for example, can you purchase Trenton bridge tee-shirts done by a Trenton artist, candles from two local candlemakers (Ana Candles and Messiah’s Candles), note cards depicting the Battles of Trenton, outlandish ties made by a Trenton seamster, a DVD on tomato pies produced by Trentonians, and music CD’s by Trenton artists like The Blue Method, Clarice Sabree and the musicians of Trenton2Nite.
Support local micro-businesses. Support your used bookstores.