The Used Book Cycle

The way books cycle through different owners is something that always fascinated me about the used book business. Each person who reads keeps a little part of the book with themselves before passing it on. At the same time, they send part of themselves along with their books when it is time to give them up. I thought it would be interesting to follow the journey of a book collection that came to our store and has begun to be dispersed.

We received a call from a nice woman whose husband had passed away, and after a few years, she decided it was time to let go of his beloved book collection. His name was Craig Eisendrath and he had been a book lover his entire life. Here is a picture of him as a young soldier relaxing with a book.

After Army life, Craig went on to live an incredible life. Here is a portion of his 2021 obituary: Eisendrath, 85, of Philadelphia, the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, a veteran and decorated Foreign Service officer, a college educator and government administrator, and an author and lecturer, died Saturday, Feb. 20, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at home.

If you want to read more about Craig’s life, here’s his obituary in The Inquirer.

Through it all, Craig lovingly collected and curated his book collection. Here is part of it, as it was during his lifetime

Sadly, near the end of his life, Craig developed ALS, a challenge that dominated the last ten years of his life. Although the illness caused many limits in his life, with the love and support of his wife Roberta, along with caregivers and family members, he was able to have some quality of life, plus he had his book collection to escape to. Here he is, still reading as a senior with ALS.

When Craig passed away, his wife waited a few years and was finally emotionally able to part with his books. She gave us a call to see if we could pick them up from her house. It was a very generous donation, but she wanted to make sure they went to good homes. This slovenly-looking fellow loading the books into the car is not some random derelict hired off the street to do some work. Rather it is I, the owner of Mostly Books, and the author of this article.

The job of unpacking the books has just begun. But one of Craig’s books has already found a new home. This particular book about Egypt had a lot of notes in it, so I put it in our 39-cent bin outside and it was bought almost immediately by this nice woman. She didn’t want to say her name, or even get the name of the website where the picture would appear, because she’s “camera shy” -a not uncommon condition with bibliophiles. She was reluctant to even have her picture taken but liked the idea, likes our store, plus she said someone close to her had ALS and she knew what a difficult burden that is and how brave Craig was to face it.

It’s going to take years to pass along all of Craig’s books. Some of them still may be in Mostly Books when I’m no longer here…at the store…or even on Earth. But as long as Mostly Books is here, Craig will be here, sharing his books with all the people who want to come in and enjoy them.

If you have a collection of books, you would like to donate to us, please call at 215-238-9838, or email at