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Are we really going to start disinfecting our used books?

Jonny Diamond

January 3, 2023, 10:01am

I get that we live in harrowing times, and that global pandemics can leave us feeling powerless and entirely without agency, but taking the time to laboriously disinfect your used books is *not* going to change that—and it might even contribute to our already weakening collective immunity.

According to Well + Good, though, when you buy used books, you might have to “contend with removing the dust, dirt, and grime that has built up on the covers and between the pages…”

Oh no!

I truly do not understand why this article exists—beyond the affiliate revenue links… oh wait, that’s why. Even one of the experts quoted in the piece kind of contradicts the general premise:

Another disinfectant according to Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of The Germ Files? Time. “You can just let books sit because the majority of microbes can’t last without food and water for a long period of time,” he says. “If you just leave a book very, very, very dry and you leave it very, very, very dry for a week, you are reducing probably 99.9 percent of the problems.”

Hmmm… those conditions sound an awful lot like… a used bookstore.

In conclusion: please don’t start disinfecting your used books.

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