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[icon] The Book Vultures - Patti
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Subject:The Book Vultures
Time:05:56 pm
There's a wonderful recycling center in El Cerrito, California. Residents and non-residents alike can go by seven days a week to drop off paper, glass, used motor oil, car batteries, videotapes, scrap metal, and other items for recycling. There's even a bin where you can drop off old reading glasses.

The thing I like about it, though, is that they have a book recycling center. There are several shelves and a couple bins of books. Anyone is welcome to drop books off, or browse the ones that are there and take anything they want. I've been purging books recently, and when I have a bunch ready to go I just take a couple of boxes up there and drop them off.

The weird thing about it, though, is that there are several book vultures who appear to be permanent fixtures. They hover around the book bins waiting for new prey. As soon as you put something in the bin, and sometimes even before, the vultures down on them, and pull out anything they're interested in. They seem to be on good terms with each other, because I've seen someone grab a book, look at it, and then hand it to one of the other guys.

My old Postscript programming books got grabbed immediately by a middle-aged Asian man. An older caucasian gentleman with a professorly beard grabbed Bill Maher's When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden, a book on TCP/IP network administration, two books of Oscar Wilde's stuff, Gullver's Travels, and several other things-- he had about a dozen of my books in his pile by the time I left.

I wonder what the vultures do with the books they grab. Read them? Sell them? Burn them for heat?
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jpmassar
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Time:2009-08-24 01:34 am (UTC)
We bring books to Friends of the Berkeley Public Library Store.

No vultures.
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whipartist
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Time:2009-08-24 01:43 am (UTC)
I don't object to the vultures... I just find them puzzling.
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mangosteen
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Time:2009-08-24 02:21 am (UTC)
I don't know about that species in particular, but the ones near me hover around library book sales, hoarding piles of books while they look them up on ebay or half.com for selling prices, seeing where they can make a profit.

They're often noticed making screeching sounds in response to others who want to look through the books.
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adb_jaeger
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Time:2009-08-24 02:47 am (UTC)
I'm going with "selling them".

When we last moved, I took a *ton* (maybe not literally, but close) of books to Half Priced Books to sell.

I wasn't getting a lot of dough (I'd guess close to the tax write-off value), but it also wasn't zero.

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wild_irises
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Time:2009-08-24 09:37 am (UTC)
You're right. They're professional "book scouts" who scour free and cheap book sources for things they know used book stores will buy. I probably know most of them, at least by sight.
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mspurrmeow
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Time:2009-08-24 04:47 am (UTC)
Selling. My worst enemy when I'm at book stores that are freshly reloading their shelves and donation spots. They pass on certain topics because others have businesses that 'specialize'.
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essaying
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Time:2009-08-24 10:53 am (UTC)
One of my neighbors back in Oakland was such a guy, except he did his vulturing on the steps of the library, where people leave books and magazines they don't want any more.

When I was trying to move, I had several boxes of books and videos that I'd tried to sell at our yard sale and that I didn't have time to run to Goodwill, so I went down the block and knocked on his door. Turns out he sorts the books he scavenges and donates them to the Friends of hte Oakland Library. He did that with my books and videos, god love him. ("These videos here are ones that the library won't take, but I'll be happy to take them away with the rest and just throw them away for you if you want.")

I think a lot of them must do it for profit, though; there are too many to be doing it for charity only.
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tom_bayes
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Time:2009-08-24 01:05 pm (UTC)
They sound a lot like the textbook buyers from the academic world. These people scratch out a living coming by our offices looking for unwanted textbooks (usually introductory books that book publishers have sent to us hoping we'll switch to their company's book) to buy. Most of them are rude and annoying and I refuse to give them business on principle. There is one guy I like (he won't interrupt you if you are on the phone or with a student) and I give him my business and I use the few bucks for math/stat club activities.

Also, every year or two, there's a collection of unwanted textbooks that get donated to developing countries. This is where the textbooks that are out of edition end up, because the book vultures have no interest once the next edition of a textbook comes out.
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[icon] The Book Vultures - Patti
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