Books by the Foot*


Have you ever wondered where all those books tossed in the “remainders box” at your local bookstore (where they sit, shamed, embarrassed, and rejected) go? To a wonderful place, Wonder Books Store, in Frederick, Maryland.

At Wonder Books, the sound of a packing machine wraps books to be shipped to real, live, customers – foster parents to these orphaned tomes. This recycle store gets inventory from public charities, libraries, bookstores, and home owners in the frenzy of downsizing or garage cleaning.

Chuck Roberts runs the store that covers three acres and holds the four million books that no one wants. Chuck sells retail, on the internet, in discount stores, even ships overseas. The price charged can be as low as a nickel, dime, or quarter. The owner says he hates to see books go to the pulp machine or the landfill – but some just can’t be sold – so they have to “go to the farm.” Sigh.

But wait! There is a ray of hope. Wonder Books sells bulk books in their “Books by the Foot” option. Customers who choose this option are:

  • Motion picture sets designers who need to have scenes with a room with a library or to look lived in.
  • Model homes to show potential home buyers that “homey” look. (as per Mr. Roberts, “Books on a shelf really personalize a home.”)
  • Professional offices such as law firms that have offices with shelves needing to be filled. (Mr. Roberts again: “There is absolutely no market in the general public domain for used law books.”)
  • Interior Designers and Decorators snap up tomes using this program. They order books that reflect the owner’s taste and sophistication i.e.: “I need 200 feet of ‘solid literature’ delivered by Monday.”
  • The buyer can also stipulate their foot of “book-shaped objects” (another quote form Roberts) be of a specific color scheme to match the purchaser’s home décor: clay, lemon yellow, earth tones…”So what do you like to read?” “Oh, I’m reading orange at the moment.”
  • And who’d thought they can also be used as building materials, having a decent “R Value” in the energy efficiency department which makes them great as insulation.

According to Chuck, Books by the Foot can’t use any slender volumes. Catcher in the Rye would be way too slim but now a James Patterson novel – that would fill the bill. And, BTW, depending on the books requested, the foot may cost anywhere from $5.99 for paperbacks to $350.00 for leather bound books.


*(Broadcast by “On the Media” in the wee hours of the morning of 8-20-16)

3 thoughts on “Books by the Foot*

  1. I love this.
    Like many libraries, our Friends of the Library organization runs our own bookstore as a daily-library fundraiser. Staff is volunteer and we make enough to pay rent, fixtures and support library projects. But I’d never thought of filling orders for “decorating by the foot”. What a great idea to market to realtors and interior designers.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing this.
    And long live pre-loved books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s