In my own experience, most people do not destroy books, but will pass unwanted books on to someone else and that to destroy a book is unthinkable.
Which leads me to the questions:
Why is destroying a book apparently taboo?
Has anyone here ever destroyed a book and why?
I read a newspaper article a while ago by someone whose name I’ve forgotten who works for a publisher. One of the jobs she had was to dispose of unwanted books and she described the qualms she had when they were being destroyed. I can’t quite remember but I think she said they burned them; you’d think they could recycle the paper.
I assume that the “taboo” goes back to times when books were more precious than they are now and the contents could be lost forever by destroying a few copies. Now that books are mostly easily available and well archived in libraries, worrying about destroying them, apart I suppose from symbolic acts like burning them in public, seems like sentimentality. Having said that, it does seem wasteful to destroy a book when someone else might be able to get something out of it. I’ve only disposed of mine by giving them away. I wonder what charity shops do with their excess books?
Of course, millions of books are destroyed every day which are unsold copies. I believe they end up in all sorts of processes, including motorway surfacing, believe it or not.
I do think it’s wrong to destroy out-of-print or rare books, and especially to withdraw them from public libraries where they might be the only accessible copy for the public in a certain area.
I used to visit an excellent public library where they had lots of rare books, particularly out-of-print full scores, such as the original edition of Petrushka and Walton’s Viola Concerto. I went back there a few years ago and all the music library had been cleared away to make space for internet terminals for teenagers to play with.