What is the Value of a Book?

2 Jun
Little Free Library by Angie Friedel
Little Free Library, a photo by Angie Friedel on Flickr.

Of all the times I have walked through Kletzsch Park in Glendale, I have never noticed this cute little concept until now: Little Free Library. A small sign simply states, “Take a Book. Leave a Book.” I am naturally pessimistic by nature, with little faith in the human race. So I wondered why none of the books had been stolen yet to be sold on Ebay or Half.com (like I used to do with my college textbooks).

On my walk home as I pondered this thought, I realized that maybe books don’t have as much value as they used to – monetary value at least. I had planned to revisit the Little Free Library several times within the next month to see if the books would still be there. Sure enough, they are still there with a different selection than I initially noticed. People had been using it and respecting it. Folks aren’t so bad are they? And they still enjoy reading books.

On my initial visit, I noticed a hardcover version of The DaVinci Code. I didn’t see it in the little wooden box during my last visit, so I looked up its value on Half.com: $.75 for the hardcover version. Then I looked up the Kindle Edition: $9.99! For some strange reason, this makes me feel weird and a little sad. I still enjoy reading old-fashioned books with pages to turn and cute little bookmarks with cheesy inspirational sayings to stick between the pages. Although I own a Kindle, it is a little heavy and awkward to hold, plus it would never last on a sandy beach. But it does has its benefits – nobody has to know that I am reading Fifty Shades of Grey and that I’m a total perv.

Nonetheless, my assumption is that in 25 years or so, the word, “book” will be used in a way similar to the word, “album.” An album used to be a big cardboard sleeve with a vinyl record inside. Now we download albums on iTunes.

After doing a little bit of research, I realized that there is a reason I had never noticed the Little Free Library before. The concept is relatively new to Milwaukee but got it’s start in Hudson, Wisconsin. Madison has over 100 of them and they have spread to over 20 different countries!

Yes, there are real libraries in real buildings where you can rent books and movies for free. But the LFL encourages me to read something I would never otherwise rent from the real library. The fact that it is located in my favorite park where I can sit by the waterfall and read for a bit is pretty nifty too. (Not like I would ever have the time to do that, but someday I might.) I plan on throwing some kids’ books in there at some point since it is near the playground. Those little people really know the value of a good book, at least for now.

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