Repair or Replace?

Repair pileSubmitter: I call this pile, “No, we don’t have to try to fix these, we can buy new ones.”

Holly: Isn’t it wild how much time, tape, and effort some libraries will put into fixing a cheap paperback? They make up 90% of donations, so they’re often free to replace! Even worse, though, is when they’re found on the shelf like this. There’s really no need to squeak one more circulation out of these; just replace them or let them go.


  1. Some may be irreplaceable in the sense that they’re delisted and out of stock by the time they reach that condition. Just because they’re popular enough to circulate locally doesn’t mean the publisher thinks them worth keeping in print.

    1. Yep. There’s a couple of books I own that are in rough shape, but out of print. After looking at prices for used replacement copies, I’ll keep patching mine back together, because I can’t afford $50 or more for a Scholastic paperback.

  2. Also, libraries in my home county are lucky they have the budget to turn on the heating much less replace any books that aren’t actively on fire, for reasons that boil down to, “Remember that rich guy who Tweeted about how we should just do away with libraries now that people can buy books off Amazon? A political party run by and for people like that dominate the council.”

    1. If it’s who I think you mean, that was a blog post on Forbes’ website … that got taken down because he was way outside his subject matter expertize and it showed.

      1. You could be right. I mostly remember seeing a very long Twitter thread consisting largely of librarians and regular library users telling him exactly what they thought of him.

  3. Can they be put in the book sale or donated somewhere else, like a hospital or homeless shelter?

  4. My general guideline for book repair is “will it look OK when I’m done?” Just “OK” seems like a low bar, but if I look at a book and can say, “Well, that looks OK,” then it can still have a lot of checkouts left in it. These, however, I could never get up to the level of OK!

  5. When books get to this stage, I expect to only see them in recycling or the library sale. They shouldn’t be on the shelves.

    And no matter how much tape you put on the outside, the pages are still going to break loose. Which is very bad for mysteries; if the page revealing whodunnit goes missing, you’ll have angry patrons.

  6. I have some hard covers that are more tape and glue than book because they are out of print but my students still love them. Paper backs are a different story.

  7. I’m in full agreement of this in most cases, but there are always exceptions- for example, we have a ton of old, yellowing westerns, and judging by the number of ILL requests we get for them I’m pretty sure they aren’t easily replaceable.

  8. Somewhere near you is a Little Free Library I bet would love to have these!

  9. This seems like a good place to rant! Why does Routledge Charge 100 – 200+ dollars for a hardback, but $30 for the paperback? Even if I have to bind the paperback, it will still be cheaper than the hardback. And! The hardbacks are all blank covers!! #AcademicLibarayLife

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