Disappearing Ink: Book Sellers, Artists, and Recyclers Discuss the Lifecycle of a Printed Book in this Week's New Times

Categories: Literary

booktrash.jpg
photo by Claire Lawton
When was the last time you pitched a book? Not into a donate bin or a friend's purse -- we're talking into a recycle or garbage bin.

If you just winced at the thought, you're not alone. And if you can remember (with or without shame) tossing a hardback or paperback into a dumpster, you're not alone either. Far from it.

This week's cover story of Phoenix New Times, Disappearing Ink, began with a trip to a local used bookstore. The employee behind the buyback counter offered cash for a small percentage of the books we hauled in, and when asked what would happen to the books we really didn't want (and really didn't need) if we left them in the store, the employee said they'd go in the trash.

See also:
- Disappearing Ink: What Will Happen to All the Books? (slideshow)

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Book art by Seattle-based artist Casey Curran titled "The egg and I".
From the employee's answer came more questions: How are books recycled? Is our view and regard for the printed book changing? And, most important, as we run out of space on our tchotchke-filled shelves and tech-filled backpacks, what will happen to all the books?

In this week's cover story, book industry experts, book sellers, book artists, book authors, and book recyclers weigh in on the future of the object we worship and destroy in equal measure.

From the story:

As we celebrate the book in our Catcher in the Rye T-shirts, we increasingly are willing to destroy it. Literally.

For evidence, do a quick search of "book art" on the craft sale website Etsy or hipster eye-candy organizer Pinterest. You'll spot book lovers covering their nails in shredded book passages and drilling holes in their hardbacks to make cool iPhone charging stands, headboards, armchairs, Christmas trees, and desk lamps. Like used clothing, books now are available to purchase by the pound for "book artists" and hotel decorators. And big-name stores like Anthropologie raid local library sales and create drool-worthy seasonal displays before tossing the books in the Dumpster.

The reality is that we live in a weird time, when book publishing, book loving, and book trashing are all at simultaneous highs.

Check out Disappearing Ink in this week's printed issue as well as the online arts section, and take a look at the adjoined slideshow, featuring book art by Seattle-based artist Casey Curran, a look inside the VNSA Book Sale, and a peek behind the scenes of the book archives at ASU.

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