BEIRUT: ‘Tis the season for giving, and at Antoine bookstores across Lebanon, this year that equates to inviting customers to donate their books to a variety of local charities and public libraries. Throughout the month of December customers can donate their books at any of the branches, and Antoine will then organize the distribution of the books to nine different charities: All they ask is that the books are not academic textbooks, are not magazines, and are in good condition.
“This is the first year we’ve done it, and we just wanted to do something at Christmas to help people,” says Marie Nakhle, a senior community manager at Keeward, a company which manages Antoine Online.
The nine charities were chosen through crowdsourcing – on Antoine’s Facebook page, people were asked to suggest different organizations.
Whittled down from an original list of 30, the nine recipient charities were chosen as they all cover different issues, and are all national – apart from one, which works for the development of the Jbeil coast.
“We had a big demand to help the Jbeil charity, and they really wanted anything that could help them out. They have 30,000 inhabitants with no cultural activities, and so they’re setting up their own public library,” Nakhle says.
The other eight charities are ASSABIL, which promotes public libraries across Lebanon; AJEM, which works for prisoners’ rights; Reve d’Enfant, which organizes activities for child victims of abuse; the LSCCB, which advocates education for all; the Burj Hammoud Public Library; Catharsis, which works on drama therapy for inmates; the Migrant Workers’ Task Force; and Nasawiya, a feminist organization.
Alternatively, instead of donating used books, people can buy books in-store for the specific charities, all of which have a wish list of desired books on the Antoine website.
“Usually if you donate books, they are a bit older,” Nakhle says, and while, “public libraries receive books, they rarely have new releases.”
People can also donate money online, through Antoine, and the bookstore will then “buy” the books for the charities at the end of the month, but at a discounted price.
The Migrant Workers’ Task Force, for example, is looking for dictionaries for those learning English and Amharic-English phrase books, while Nasawiya is hoping for “A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution” by Samar Yazbek and “Beirut” by Samir Kassir.
So far, Nakhle says, they have received a few hundred books, which will be distributed at the beginning of the new year, and they have already received so many requests from various organizations that they hope to repeat the scheme again next Christmas, if not before.
The illustrator Maya Zankoul has also donated some of her own books, as have the publishing houses Librarie Stephan and Tamyras.
Donate books at any of the Antoine branches: AUB, Hamra, Sassine, ABC Ashrafieh, ABC Dbayyeh, Beirut Souks, Sin al-Fil, Baabda, Maameltein, Verdun, Tripoli or donate money online at www.antoineonline.com/donate.aspx.