[UPDATE 7/22/2014: Youtube commenters have pointed out that most bookstores do this in order to prevent people from dumpster-diving books and trying to resell the same stuff that was just thrown out. Makes sense. Also, I later learned that Half Price Books donates thousands of books each year to schools and libraries.]
I happened upon the manager of the Half Price Books in Richardson, Texas tossing books into a dumpster the other day. This was the second day in a row that I noticed them doing this. So I asked the woman if there was anything wrong with the books. She responded that the books were either damp or moldy. (Which I knew wasn’t true. I had scavenged a few the day before, and they were in perfectly good condition.) I then asked her if she minded if I did a little dumpster diving. She said no, she has to throw them out. I asked why. She said it’s the rules. Then she started tearing off the covers of each book when she realized that I was sitting there watching her.
Is it a normal practice for used-book stores to be throwing away their stock as opposed to donating it to libraries, schools, or charities? They weren’t just throwing out outdated encyclopedias or magazines — she was tossing out CDs, videogames, and VHS movies — all of which still appeared to be in good and usable condition.
I realize the woman is probably just doing her job, mindlessly doing what she’s told in order to remain employed, but it seems like such a waste.
Here are the few things I was able to scavenge out of the dumpster. I didn’t dig too deep; I just grabbed whatever was at the top of the pile. The books don’t look damp, damaged, or mildewy to me:
Even if it is a common practice, to me it seems a wasteful and selfish one, like restaurants that throw out edible food every night instead of giving it away to the homeless or hungry.