Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Steal Me Once, Steal Me Twice, Steal Me Once Again


Steal These Books, Margo Rabb's essay in The New York Times, explores people who steal books from bookstores -- sometimes, even, it is the author of the book who does the taking. I think my favorite part is the title of the most-stolen book.

No, I'm not going to tell you! Click through and find out.

Oh, and apparently? There is a hip factor to stealing book. Must be the reason I haven't stolen one.

Inspired by Rabb's essay, The Paper Cuts Blog at the NYT asks people what books they have stolen in Out Stealing Books. So far, 31 people have fessed up.

What intrigues me about the conversation at the blog is the people who mention stealing library books. Yes, it's always wrong to steal. Stealing from the bookstore is bad; if cuts into the profits of the store itself, and takes away from the royalties for the author twice (once because you didn't buy that book, twice because you prevented someone else from doing so.) It's a bit sad to read people happy to get back at "the man" with their book stealing. Or to read how they believe its OK because they like to read. I wonder who they think is to blame when stores go out of business, or book prices are increased to take into consideration such theft?

But stealing from a library means that you are now preventing so many other people from reading that book. What a selfish act, to think "my ownership is more important than your reading." With a bookstore, at least, the person who wants to buy that book will probably end up finding another copy or asking the bookstore to track down another copy. While at a library, chances are you took the only copy; it's out of print; and doing an ILL costs the library money. (No, really. See all the library news that mentions ILL in budget cuts, either eliminating or reducing the service or adding and increasing ILL fees).

By the way, Margo Rabb visited Tea Cozy back in 2007 when promoting her book, Cures for Heartbreak, which was one of my Favorite Books of 2007. And her 2008 NYTimes Essay, "I'm YA, and I'm OK," is a great essay about reading and writing YA books.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

We have no security system in our library. It is a pain. I've put up signs BEGGING the teens to stop stealing Sonya Sones and Carolyn Mackler. I budget replacement money regularly for Meg Cabot and Tamora Pierce. Somebody took off with half our Pixar movies the other day. I also give my school visit kids a fairly terrifying talk on how taking books and not returning them isn't just stealing from the library, it's stealing from EVERY PERSON IN THE CITY AND WE WILL TRACK YOU DOWN!! There's always a shocked and solemn pause after that little talk and I've gotten some "you're nuts" looks from teachers, but somebody has to drill it into these kids. They take books, I replace books, I can't buy new books.

Administrator said...

Unless there's some publisher "this book was shoplifted" credit I've been missing out on for the past six years, I can assure you that a stolen book is simply counted as a sale by the publisher for the purposes of author royalties. Which is probably why there are so many thieving authors.

Doret said...

I've heard that the paper inside of the most stolen book is perfect for smoking.

After a quick search I found out it's true.

http://www.marijuana.com/homemade-paraphernalia/8656-paper-use-when-you-have-no-rolling-paper.html

Liz B said...

Jennifer, and with increased budget concerns the theft becomes an even bigger issue. What is interesting is how many of the thieves thoughts seem to be, "but I'm the only one reading this book so it's OK; it's 'liberating' the book" or "since I'm a reader who cannot afford to buy a book, it's OK."

Admin, Wow. While it's nice, I guess, that the bookseller doesn't take the hit & that the author gets credit, then the publisher takes the hit.

Doret, that actually makes sense as to why that book would be stolen.

Shakespeare & Co. said...

I think you're misunderstanding what I said. The bookstore ordered the book, paid the invoice and did not return it for credit; so, the bookstore eats the loss and everybody else gets paid.

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