An avid book lover is asking the community to help him save unwanted books by donating them to him rather than sending them to an early grave.
After seeing people struggle to find places to give away their books because, due to COVID-19, thrift stores were limiting what they could take in, Oak Harbor resident Kevin Tyler Lucas thought he would step in and offer an alternative to the recycling bin.
That’s where Lucas said he has discovered, to his chagrin, the remains of many books.
“Somehow we’ve just gotten comfortable with ripping the covers off books and stuffing them in with the mixed paper and getting by with that,” Lucas said.
With the mission to free the books, Lucas created a Facebook page for his new operation called Shelves Are Prisons.
He explained that the title is supposed to encapsulate the fate of many books, which are bought, read and then sit on a shelf for years before eventually getting tossed to the curb.
To find books, Lucas has been primarily connecting with people on Facebook through the community page, Whidbey Island Community, and his own business’ page.
Within the past two weeks, the bookworm has saved close to 500 volumes, many of which occupy every available square inch of space in his laundry room. Stacks are labeled with categories such as “travel” and “educational” and “fitness.”
For Lucas, the new business venture is more about doing something good in the world rather than making a living. When he first receives a book he tries to sell it through Amazon’s marketplace, but that sometimes can be a fruitless endeavor.
“It’s amazing how many books can be passed up or missed as not being valuable,” Lucas said.
After 90 days, he plans to offer the book for free. Similar to a Little Free Library, Lucas has been putting together shelves of free books.
Some of these he has shared with the Oak Harbor religious nonprofit, Mighty to Save Ministries, stacking them with Bibles and motivational books.
For the Jester’s Keep near Langley, a tabletop gaming store, he has provided mythical books catering to the business’ clientele.
Lucas said he hopes to be able to partner with more businesses in setting up shelves of free books.
“I think books are rich with history, with knowledge,” he said, adding that novels have always given him an escape into another world.