HSBC’s Used Books Donated to The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc.
April 2, 2015
Today, the society donated hundreds of remaining books from its used book sale to a good cause – The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc. The Book Thing of Baltimore gives away books, free of charge, to anyone desiring them – teachers, schools and the general public.
Despite offering a multi-week used book sale from our location in Cockeysville as a fundraiser and service to our members and friends, your generosity left us with hundreds of quality used and new books without space to store them. Hence, we wanted to ensure they made their way into the hands of folks who could use them. If you haven’t heard of The Book Thing, and in case you’re curious, here’s who they are…
The Baltimore Sun reported the following in 2002, “The Book Thing has operated on a shoestring for several years, yet manages to give away about 20,000 hardback and paperback books a week, Wattenberg said. The nonprofit enterprise circulates books donated by community members, city and county residents, universities, authors, publishers and the Smithsonian Institution, among others. ”
The New York Times reported the following in an article titled, “Where Even the Dime Novel Doesn’t Cost a Cent,” “As rumpled and watchful as a pulp-noir antihero, Russell Wattenberg approached another day in the grip of his nonprofit obsession, looking into the night book bin outside his basement door to see what freebies had turned up. ”This big coffee-table book about mummies, plus an oddball cookbook about gourmet meals made from weeds, and other, more usual stuff,” Mr. Wattenberg said, adding these latest donations to the 250,000 volumes crowding all about him in one of this city’s grand treasure troves. ”I figure we’ll give away 10,000 books this weekend,” he said confidently, after putting out simple sidewalk sandwich-board signs announcing, ”Free Books.” Mr. Wattenberg is the founder and proprietor of the Book Thing, a makeshift, backdoor operation that has become an institution in the last six years for giving away hundreds of thousands of books on the sole condition that they are presented free to browsers and must stay that way. ”Not for Resale,” reads the rubber-stamped message he happily presses into each book he gives away, from Plato to Tom Clancy. ”THIS IS A FREE BOOK.”
People Magazine reported the following: “As a bartender in Baltimore, Russell Wattenberg heard plenty of woeful tales from his customers. Broken hearts, broken dreams…all he could do was listen. But one night in the spring of 1997, as he overheard a few public school teachers bemoaning their students’ lack of books, Wattenberg figured he could do more than commiserate. Taking $70 of his tip money, the 28-year-old Brooklyn native spent the following weekend going to yard sales, where he picked up 250 used books for the teachers. “You don’t find somebody like this every day,” says Andreas Spiliadis, one of the teachers Wattenberg helped. Within a few weeks, scavenging for literary finds became a weekly event for Wattenberg, who started buying books for anyone in need of a read, from impoverished children to cash-strapped adults. “I love seeing books go from somewhere they’re not wanted to somewhere they are,” he says. So much so that by November of 1999 Wattenberg, a bachelor, quit bartending to found the nonprofit Book Thing of Baltimore, which collects unwanted books from individuals and publishers and gives them to those in need. Supported by grants and donations, he now hands out about 9,500 volumes each week. “It’s social justice to him,” says Sally Scott, program officer for the Morris Goldseker Foundation, a Book Thing sponsor. ” [He believes] people deserve and need books, whatever their background.” Actually his motivation is less complex. Says Wattenberg: “It makes me feel good.”