books-630x354It’s a tale fit to chill the heart of a son of librarians: earlier this year, someone was chucking paperback books out his driver side window along a stretch of U.S. 287 in Colorado. They were mostly romance novels.

When I read the first story, I figured it was someone with a stock of effectively worthless old books and no better way of getting rid of them. After all, used paper books seem to have so little value these days that a lot of second-hand bookstores don’t even take them in barter, already having all they need. A little web-searching pulled up the conclusion, a month later.

The cops finally caught 62-year-old Glenn Pladsen, and it turned out to be pretty much as I expected.

Pladsen said that he acquired thousands of books after a Boulder used bookstore closed about eight years ago and that he sold them online for a while but was unable to compete with Amazon.

"The way they sell their used books put all the used book sellers out," he said. "I was left with thousands of books in the house."

Pladsen said he works long hours as a technician at RF Concepts LLC and that taking the books to the landfill or Goodwill would mean an extra trip, so he started tossing them out of the window on his way to work.

He added that he has arthritis and couldn’t lift the books over his head to throw them into a Dumpster. He has tried to give away the books — which cover a variety of topics and genres — but no one wants them.

"My whole basement is full of books, and I need to get rid of them now," he said. "I’ll stop doing what I’ve been doing, of course."

Just a couple of days ago, Pladsen ended up pleading guilty to three counts of littering, being sentenced to 30 hours of community service, and charged $1,725 in court costs and restitution for the time Colorado Department of Transit workers had to spend cleaning up the books.

I wasn’t able to find any indication of what happened to the remainder of the books in his basement. I would hope he was able to find some volunteers to come in and take them away to another bookstore, or to be donated to places where books might be welcome.

It all comes back to Amazon, in a way. Amazon could be part of the reason that Boulder bookstore had to close in the first place, and they were the reason he was unable to sell the books online as he’d hoped to. I guess that’s just the way it goes. It still wasn’t too bright to try to dump them out his window on the way to work, though.

If you’re going to try to sell used paper books online, there’s a right way to do it, and that way involves being selective rather than just buying the whole stock of a bookstore. If you do it right, I understand you can make some pretty decent money that way. Otherwise, you end up literally literarily littering.


  1. Oh good grief. Don’t they have household recycling where he lives? I dump old books in mine when I can’t find another way to share them. But to toss the books onto the road because he “thought they were being blown in the ditch” is totally irresponsible. I’m glad the judge hit his pocket with some fines—too bad the fines weren’t higher.

  2. Life imitates art: in ‘Going, Going, Gone’, one of the Asey Mayo books by Phoebe Atwood Taylor, two of the suspects try to dispose of a chest full of old schoolbooks by throwing them out of their car one by one as they drive around. Naturally the books are found and returned to them by Mayo, the Codfish Sherlock.

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