Trashy romance novels have long been acknowledged as subgenre but does this somewhat begrudgedly bestowed status entail a different custodial ethicacy? Is the implicit contract when acquiring a Mills and Boon that once read you should pass it on? And is this onus acutely applicable if you sourced from a charity shop (for lets face it most self-respecting second hand books stores would rather face the wrath of the ATO than the disdain of the pseudo-intellect?)
Imaging that my living space was a mini-metropolis of towering romance novels (seriously I do not own that many!) we were gently chastised for not recycling the books sourced from Lifeline, Salvos etc by returning them once ‘enjoyed’ so they might be sold again. Taken aback by this position we queried are other books acquired from this source to be subjected to the same treatment. ‘No,’ came the response ‘as they are not trashy romances.’
It might be a fair position to take if the books were acquired indiscriminately and en masse. (Much like the approach people were pursuing at the Lifeline Book Sale on the weekend…when did the walking cane become de rigour apparatus for book browsing??Did you really need to use the shopping cart to block my access to Virginia Woolf?) But to relinquish so soon after (a sometimes considered) acquisition rather defeats the act of purchase does it not? Besides which, the library is the far more economical model of temporal access.
If an unspoken code is violated by not ‘recycling’ Mills and Boon novels through the charity shops what of those who profit by reselling on eBay? Those pesky artlined prices do tend to advertise the profit margin sought. Or is the point of moving these books on the more righteous course of action? At what point are you exempted from the obligation? Two years after initial publication? Five years? Books of a certain vintage have longer turnover rates if they move at all. Is it not unethical to ‘dump’ these books then? Or if the text is repugnant are you allowed to disposed of it thoughtfully in the recycling bin.
Some books have a life beyond the natural life span of their initial owner. A mystique with tantalising clues to their past hinted at in the copperplate inscriptions. We are allowed to treasure such books for term of our natural lives but with the trashy romance we are permitted a matter of weeks?
There is no objection in donating books to charity stores so they may enjoy a new lease on life but there is to the assumption that a trashy romance needs to arrive at their final destination a lot sooner than later.
Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.
– Virginia Woolf