Fears that binning books may hit charity shop funds

Book section
Book section

Charities and book experts have expressed concern that books can now be put into blue recycling bins in West Suffolk.

The fear is that it could hit charity shop profits and may result in rare and valuable books being pulped.

A spokesman for St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils said: “We would always encourage people to donate goods for resale through charity shops wherever possible but there will be occasions when books are so battered and unreadable that recycling them, instead of putting them into landfill, is an alternative option.”

But St Nicholas Hospice Care’s head of retail Ian Daniels said: “It’s easier and more convenient to put it in a bin than bring it into a shop.

“We have a dedicated bookshop in Thetford and sell books at 90 per cent or our shops. Books raised £25,000 just in the Bury shop in St John’s Street last year.”

He said their volunteers check the books for unusual ones, like the 1920s transcript of John Milton’s sonnets donated to the Sudbury shop which sold for £120 at auction.

Ben Keenan, manager of Oxfam Books and Music in Bury St Edmunds, said he felt the town was so book aware that few would bin them, but he was still worried that rare books may be lost.

“That’s the issue here,” he said. “There will be a lot of wonderful books thrown away.”

Bury based secondhand and antiquarian book dealer John Crawford said it was far too easy to throw away valuable books. He had someone push him to add an extra box of books to a house clearance for £1. When he checked them properly they included a first edition of the second Harry Potter book, which sold for £520.

He added: “It doesn’t cost much to make a phone call to someone like myself and you could get a couple of pounds or £200.”

You can find your nearest charity shop at www.charityretail.org.uk