A question came through in one of my Yahoo Groups today concerning storing books for future use in barter transactions. While on the surface it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, I do have some thoughts about it.
First, let’s say there was some sort of major regional or even national catastrophe. One large enough that would result in folks relying on barter to get what they need. One of the key components of whether an item would be useful as barter is the expected rarity of the item. For example, we would expect food to be high on the value list, right? Fuel would probably be another one.
Books though, I have to wonder how scarce they’d be. I mean, most homes have at least a couple bookcases full of paperbacks and such, right? Libraries would be another source for finding reading material. Also, statistics have shown for years that less and less people read for entertainment. Sure, ebooks are obviously the new big thing and some of the people who devour them now might turn back to physical books when their reader dies.
There is this too — most of the avid readers I know already have a TON of books in their homes. They aren’t necessarily stored for barter purposes but just because many readers don’t like to get rid of their books. Heck, I have books in literally every single room of my home.
Another consideration is the type of book being stored. I would guess that practical information, like books on homesteading skills and wilderness survival, would fetch a higher “price” than a 15 year old Grisham novel.
I’m not saying that considering books for barter use is a bad idea. But I’d think hard about storing several cases of them in place of storing things like salt, matches, sewing needles and more practical things.