The Work

Sending books is a labor intensive process

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Mason Cooley

The Letter

It starts with a letter from an incarcerated person asking for some books. Requests from readers are wide ranging in genre — self-help, mysteries, fantasy, drawing primers, religion, history, grammar & writing books.

The Bookstore

Subterranean Books receives these letters on our behalf. When we pick up the letters from them, we often purchase dictionaries and thesauri at the same time; our most frequently requested items.

The Collection

We fill the requests from our donated collection. We receive donations from individuals, Subterranean Bookstore, Washington & Saint Louis University, via book drives on our behalf by local churches or student organizations. Books outside the interest of our readers, we sell to used book vendors or offer at book fairs to help with postage.

The Paper Work

Each book package contains an address label, an inventory sheet of the contents, a list of the subjects in our collection, and a note from us asking for feedback from our readers.

The Wrapping

We usually send three books per package to keep postage costs to around four dollars. Each package requires careful alignment and deftly applied packing tape to withstand the rigors of media postage delivery.

The Mailing

Multiple weekly runs to the Post Office get it all sent off.

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