The image above was being pointed to on the internet here and there, and I approve wholeheartedly.
Books are a comfort, a reassurance that there's always more to discover. With a paperback in my pocket, I'm prepared for the most tedious of journeys, even being stuck for an extra two hours sitting just outside Crewe. I have more books than I have time to read, but that's OK, as I can see myself having a phobia of the opposite condition. I'm OK about weeding out the chaff, occasionally, stuff I'll never read, or more likely never read again. There's plenty more, and more will come in, from car boot sales, charity shops and the like.
Chatting to a homeless guy in Shepherd's Bush - about the book he was reading - he pointed out the free bookshop that was running in an empty unit in the shopping centre - Books for free*. You could debate whether money could be made for a charity for those books, but the concept that stuff can just be passed on is vital; whilst we have freecycle, and local arrangements such as leaving stuff out on the pavement, free shops should be much more widespread. Too much is thrown away as being no use to one person, when it's perfect for another.
And yet - at the other end of the spectrum - those books need to be made, and paid for. We found ourselves almost duty bound to support the little independent bookshop in Uxbridge, struggloing just off the High St. I love being able to go online to Amazon or Abebooks to find exactly what I want there and then, and I know I'm just as much as part of the problem as anyone, not to mention having a book as a few hundred kilobytes of data on our gadget of choice. We saw a lovely traditional bookshop in Deal in it's closing down death throes. Much as I love words, and the books that hold them, I don't pay enough for them. It's just like food; we should pay more for good food from local suppliers, and we don't, we buy crap from the supermarket.
To avoid finishing on a complete downer, here's how much I waste words; a colleague redacted a recent email, leaving the bits he considered relevant. Although I like to paint the bigger picture, he was largely right:
* more waffle - the book I found in here, like in a lot of places, something I would have never been looking for - is a book by Fred Basnett, a social romp based on his experiences as a young worker at Sellafield. I grew up in the area a few years later, but it's a serendipitous find, and a book I'll probably hang on to.