Have you too been concerned about the state of Son’s room? He’s not had time to tidy up for the past couple of years, at least. He’s been in and out over a weekend here and there, and the mess had grown and the dust had reached unspeakable levels.
So, we have had some quality time this Christmas, with me watching him tidy up and lending moral support in his time of need and all that. Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust took on a new meaning as we tackled the bookcases, but now they are orderly and not overflowing, and less dusty for a short while.
Son’s desk has emerged again, and things look pretty good. The rest of the house looks worse, as the excess had to go somewhere else, but I trust it’s nothing that a trip to a charity shop won’t cure.
A good way to start the new year.
As I understand it, Oxfam staff are meant to write the price of the used books they sell, in soft pencil, inside the book. Many branches of Oxfam do, and all I need to do post-purchase is to get my eraser out, and the book will look fine.
Some of my local branches, like the big one in central Manchester, use sticky labels. You know, the kind that divides into three or four pieces, in order to prevent shoplifting. The ones they use are particularly sticky, and for good measure they use two per book. One on the outside, front or back. One on the inside where the soft pencil should go.
Some book covers are strong enough and glossy enough to allow removal of the label without too much damage or difficulty. The inside is another business, and I’ve torn a good many books that way. The very worst is when the book cover is soft or has a matt finish. Then the outside label can’t be removed. The worst I’ve ever had was a really old copy of an Arthur Ransome, where the label ruined the dust wrapper completely.
Oxfam could argue that with used books it doesn’t matter, but I just don’t want an ugly label stuck where it doesn’t belong. If the books were still sold for 20p, my case would be weaker, as it would be really good value (though I still don’t think it’s OK to ruin books), but Oxfam are expensive. Sometimes the books are not much cheaper than the big online bookshop. And if I’ve found an old book, it would be good to have it free from both labels and damaged covers.