…For the really out-of-date or the damaged-beyond-readability, specialized companies like the somewhat aggressively-named Book Destruction will pulp entire books, spine and all, and send the results directly back to the paper mills. But for books with a little shelf life left in them, there may be another solution.
Thrift Recycling Management has been collecting and re-purposing landfill-bound books for years. They scan ISBNs or enter titles into a database, and their computers use an algorithm to determine if the volume is fit to be resold, donated to charity, or consigned to the recycling plant. TRM, which is based in Washington state and is expanding across the country, has just been granted $8.5 million by venture capitalists. That’s great news, because every region deserves a service like this one. There are a million ways to reuse books, of course, but sometimes a cheap paperback (I’m thinking deeply yellowed pages and a spine permanently curled open) might be better off pulped and turned into a brand-new cheap paperback.