Over the last several weeks, in preparation for an office move, I've been weeding out books from my over-filled shelves. We all know what a pain moving is, and so the question I asked everyday was: “Do I really need this?”
First, there were the books that I answered with “This one I really don’t need”; then the “No, not this one either”; then came the “These are just too Goddamn heavy”; and finally, the books that had come from our publishing clients for various projects, long since past. Many of the books I have had for years: research books, odd-subject books (17th century French engravings, Persian bronzes, Ethiopian weavings, dental techniques from the '50s), photo reference books, design annuals, art books, magazines, biographies, how-to books, marketing books, fiction and non-fiction. These were books saved just because they were books. Of course, today (when we can find any image, any fact in an instant) they feel like artifacts from a different era.
Hence, FREE BOOKS!
We put about six, overflowing library carts on the street in front of my office (23rd Street between Broadway and Madison in New York City). Construction workers, investment bankers, students, shop people and various passers-by, stopped, browsed and walked away with a book or two. We watched over 600 books disappear.
A typical New York street scene.
It is particularly interesting in this time of radical change — in the world of publishing, Kindle's and E-Readers — to see all the different types of people giving these books new homes. Everyone loves a good book, of course, but let's not forget that the books were FREE!
These are photographs from of our little experiment.