In my travels through the used book world, I am surprised
at the number of books that are discarded from public libraries.
Also in the mix is a few number of books that were not discarded
but checked out and sold or given away. It makes one wonder
what criteria is used for discarding a book.
Generally non-fiction books tend to be discarded because
new information becomes available and newer editions are needed.
Sometimes authors (and publishers) change a page or two and
come out with a new edition and thus sell a whole new class
of students new textbooks.
what about fiction books. Is it a matter or shelving space
sometimes? Does the age of a book have something to do with
the process? I was especially intrigued by the number of children's
books that get discarded. So I chose a discarded children's
book and decided to read it and see if it is still relevant
today. The book was The
Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman with wonderful
illustrations by Peter Sis and is recommended for ages 9-12
As soon as I started the reading, I was hooked on the story
of a prince who had a whipping boy to take his punishment
for the many misdeeds that the prince committed. The prince
may may have had royal blood but he lacked royal sense. Young
readers would identify with the whipping boy almost immediately.
I read the book with a child's perspective—not that
this could happen but that it did happen. We adults have to
use willful suspension of disbelief, but children don't have
to be bothered with that—they just assume it happened.
Internet even has a lesson plan to teach this book at BookRags.com
rather good one at that. So one wonders why this book was
discarded. Maybe a newer edition came out but this is one
examples of many such books that end up in used-book stores
stamped “discarded.” Does that mean one day The
Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant will end
up labeled “discared?” I hope not. It is such
a good book that gives a good picture of family life in eastern
Kentucky and it would be a shame to see it pass into the “out-of-print”
I consulted both Amazon.com and half.com to see if there
are many copies out there. There are many for sale at both
sites (including my own).
If you are a fan of children's books or looking for some
for your children, check out the various places that sell
used books. A buyer can buy a whole load of such books with
the price of one new book on the market.
One way or the other, I hope you get your hands on The
Whipping Boy and enjoy either reading
it or reading it with your child or better yet having the
child read the book to you.