Books and donations…

Saw this on a trip to Tübingen

The sign translates as follows: “To give away!  A small donation for the refugee home at Neckarhalde is requested”. It’s nothing I had not seen before in some similar form. However, I just like the playful correlation of two delicate regimes of value: “disposed of books” vs. “donations for a refugee home”. 

Entirely incommensurate to each other, both share the common feature of being taken out of the market. Payment in this case is replaced with donation. It would also remains unclear whether a potential buyer likes books or just picks one because he or she likes to donate. For the buyer, the two kinds of gain may be mutually entangled. Something similar is true for the seller who gets rid of the books (useless for him but somehow still too much valued to throw them away) while he shares in the pleasure of donating. Yet, there is no face to face interaction. Money still works as a medium of exchange but its value is redirected to a third party so that there is virtually no connection between the buyer and the seller – except perhaps the “goodness” which both may share through an unspecified amount of money earmarked for donation. Prices are not set and money is explicitly neither used to compensate the seller nor to balance out, say “books” vs. “refugees”.  The whole process of evaluation and comparison, however, remains up to the buyer. It’s all free; no compulsion, no surveillance, no storage of personal data.

Yes, I guess it might work to get rid of some of the books in this way…perhaps (and that would be a nice implication) even of more books as when compared to a situation where the sign would only read “Free books!”