About Those Books You Want to Unload

Keith Laug Photo by M. Turton

Keith Laug (Photo by M. Turton)

Beacon fitness center will pick them up

Although Keith Laug has been helping people get fit for more than 20 years, he never imagined picking up bags of books as part of his personal fitness routine. 

Laug got into the fitness business in 2002, doing personal training in people’s homes. Six years later, he opened a studio, ZONED Fitness, in Beacon. 

But when the pandemic hit in 2020, his business took a hit, too. 

“We were shut down completely by the state from mid-March to Labor Day weekend,” Laug recalls. “I couldn’t open my doors.”

As restrictions were loosened, he was able to reopen, but at only a third of capacity. On top of that, people were reluctant to work out in groups. 

In 2021 he downsized, moving ZONED Fitness to 278 Main St. He had gone from training groups of up to 12 people, including children, to working with one person at a time. “That had an impact on the revenue I could generate in a day,” Laug says.

Restaurants had found ways to bring in revenue during the pandemic by adding outdoor dining, increasing takeout and home delivery. Laug needed a new revenue stream. 

In September, a childhood friend told him about a sideline business he had started in Connecticut, collecting unwanted books for resale. 

Laug thought the idea had merit. In October, he established Kejola Books. 

“People have an emotional attachment to their books; they don’t want to just trash or recycle them,” Laug said. “They want to know they can be put back into circulation and that someone will read them again.”

Laug accepts all manner of books in good condition at his studio; he also offers pickup in much of the Hudson Valley. He has traveled as far north as Poughkeepsie and as far south as Cortlandt, with stops along the way in Fort Montgomery, Highland, Garrison and other communities. 

Where to Donate

Here are places to donate books that allow for a tax deduction. Encyclopedias, textbooks, magazines and damaged books are not accepted.

Desmond-Fish Public Library (Garrison)
Donations are accepted only shortly before its annual summer sale. See desmondfishlibrary.org/friends.

Beacon Reads (309 Main St.)
The bookstore benefits the Howland Public Library. Due to lack of space, no donations will be accepted until Feb. 1. See friendsofhpl.wordpress.com. The store is open daily except Monday and Tuesday.

Field Library (Peekskill)
The library bookstore at 934 South St. is open daily except Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See peekskill.org/library-bookstore.

Poughkeepsie Library
Drop books in the donation pod at the rear of the building weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or in the white library van in the parking lot on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. See poklib.org/donations. The store at 114 Boardman Road is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Laug sells the books on eBay, Facebook and other sites, and to bulk buyers. Those he can’t sell are donated to nursing homes and other organizations that accept books. Recycling is a last resort, and only for books in poor condition.

Laug has been surprised by which books do best in the resale market, with nonfiction easily outperforming fiction. 

“Textbooks, manuals, art and photography books do well,” he said. “I recently had an obscure mechanical manual that sold right away, as did a book on how to crochet.” A book by Frank Lloyd Wright was another instant seller. 

In fiction, anything by Stephen King sells easily, Laug said. Last weekend he was surprised to receive a book club first edition of Dune. “I put it on the market and someone grabbed it right away,” Laug said. 

He’s also working on two potential acquisitions, a set of early 20th-century editions of works by Mark Twain and a collection of books by Charles Dickens printed in the 1930s. 

Laug feels there is a pent-up demand among people who have books they want to give away, and that it is growing. One client gave him 500 books. “They tell me they’ve been looking for this service for years,” but that in the past no one accepted donated books on a regular basis. 

Kejola Books “is now at a point where it is becoming profitable,” Laug said, a welcome development since his fitness studio is still recovering.

One thought on “About Those Books You Want to Unload

  1. The book nerd in me wants so badly to properly organize those piles. It gave me anxiety looking at the photo. [via Instagram]

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