The Head and The Hand
The Head & The Hand is a non-profit independent publisher and community bookstore located in the Kensington/Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Their recently-launched Book Bank Community Membership Program is a take-back program for books that allows participants to trade in gently-used books for credits that are redeemable for new books. This circular program then assigns a rank to the book based on condition and makes those books available for resale at a discount.
Why did you become a member?
Like so many of us, I want to take more active steps toward addressing inefficiencies in systems that create waste and negatively impact the environment. Nic Esposito, the founder of H&H Books and The Head & The Hand publishing organization, has been a (ceaseless, haha) voice of advocacy on these issues, and because I’ve been his colleague, collaborator, and friend since 2012, I was happy to join Circular after we launched our used book donation and credit reward system dubbed Book Bank this year.
What does a circular economy mean to your organization?
In our case, applying the guiding principle of designing waste out of systems currently in place and incentivizing participation in that effort meant setting a goal of increasing both the quality and quantity of our selection for our supporters while also rewarding those who want to give their books another shot at being read (and loved!). Our hope is that implementing such a system will help keep those books out of the landfill or letting them languish in a storage facility or other space where they aren’t properly cared for and/or folks don’t have ready access to them.
How is your organization practicing circularity?
As bookstore-publisher hybrid, we want to reward our supporters who want to give a second (and maybe third or fourth!) life to books that meant something to them once but are no longer desirable enough or practical enough to maintain in a home library. In the most basic terms, our credit system is based on a 4:1 ratio of resalability and reward: four books of gently used (or better) quality equal one free paperback. This way, we refresh our bookstore’s shelves as our supporters make room for their next great reading obsession.
How can others advance the circular economy?
Just speaking from the oddball position of bookstore-publisher hybrid project director, don’t throw books away you could otherwise donate to a school, Little Free Library, or trusted thrift store, treat those titles kindly while you read (a taller order for some than others, myself included) so they can be resold and are more likely to be reloved, and, last but not at all least, volunteer at a local library, the greatest, grandest literary circular economy of them all. This is an especially urgent issue here in Philadelphia where organizations like PARSL are working tirelessly to get more certified librarians back in the public school system, which is virtually volunteer-run.