Why you should throw books out

I’m guest-blogging for Penguin just a bit, to promote the paperback edition of Discover Your Inner Economist.  Here is my post on why you should throw books out.  Natasha, alas, does not agree and sometimes she pulls them out of the trash and scolds me.  But here is an excerpt in my defense:

Here’s the problem. If you donate the otherwise-thrashed book
somewhere, someone might read it. OK, maybe that person will read one
more book in life but more likely that book will substitute for that
person reading some other book instead.

So you have to ask
yourself — this book — is it better on average than what an attracted
reader might otherwise spend time with? No I’m not encouraging
"censorship" of any particular point of view, but even within any
particular point of view most books simply aren’t that good. These
books are traps for the unwary. A lot of books don’t make the cut of
"above average to those readers they will attract" and of course since
you’ve spent some time with the volume you ought to be in a position to
know. (But note the calculation is tricky. Sometimes a very bad book
can be useful because it might appeal to "bad" readers and lure them
away from even worse books. Please make all the appropriate
calculations here.)

Note that the smarter and more discriminating are your friends, the higher the standard your book donations to them must meet.  Toss it!


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