Despite a new state law, the U.S. Postal Service says if Imagination Library won’t pay for return postage it has no choice but to get rid of undeliverable books.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has worked with the state for the past decade, sending free books to families with preschoolers.
At one time, Post Office officials were allowing charities to pick up books sent to bad addresses but then the Postal Service changed course and began shredding the books. That annoyed state legislators, and in April, Governor Haslam signed a law banning the Post Office from discarding the books.
Postal Service spokesman David Walton says it can’t do what the state wants because it would be discriminatory.
“So we have customers that pay for that return service. Imagination Library doesn’t, but they want the books back. We can’t do that. I mean, why would we give them something for free when another customer is paying for it?” Walton says.
Imagination Library mails nearly 225, 000 books a month to Tennesseans. Theresa Carl of the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation says less than 2% are undeliverable, but the price to reclaim them is still too much.
In many cases, Carl says, the cost of returning a book is more than the book itself.