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Books Media The Almighty Buck

Book 'Em, Dano 150

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the digital-pawn-shops dept.
theodp writes "An Oregon library worker was arrested after selling at least $10,000 worth of stolen library books, CDs and videotapes online in the past six months. The thief, who scanned the Net to find items in demand and went to the library to check them out, was busted after an alert college president noticed his copy of the recently-published I am Charlotte Simmons, purchased on Amazon.com, sported a library receipt with a due date of Dec. 26. Earlier this month, it was reported that a VT man was arrested for stealing hundreds of books from college libraries and bookstores and selling them on Amazon, realizing more than $4,000. The library thefts are somewhat ironic, since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the NY Times seemed to suggest there might be fewer books in libraries if the Authors Guild, who opposed Amazon's used book sales practices, had their way. Bezos also once told angry booksellers there's no reason why Amazon should have to collect sales taxes, arguing that Amazon gets no police services from other states."
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Book 'Em, Dano

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  • by mwilliamson (672411) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:21AM (#12053865) Homepage Journal
    Damn, this guy's a smart one... genious.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:23AM (#12053872)
    To be honest, this sort of thing really grips my shit. Ebay is full of people doing this sort of thing - not what people might think of as 'stolen goods' but things they've borrowed from work or been issued and then flog on ebay.
    I'm in the military and every now and again do a search for Military kit, ebay is crawling with brand new stuff that could only have come from stores, so basicly someone is getting it issued, or taking a few bits home and then flogging them straight onto eBay to make a few extra dollars - it still amounts to the same thing.
    • by NewStarRising (580196) <NSR@nOspAm.maddwarf.co.uk> on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:48AM (#12053959) Homepage
      "not what people might think of as 'stolen goods' " ...

      just goods that do not belong to them, being sold with no intention of passing any of the sales price to the owner of the goods...

      ok, IANAL, but surely most people realise that taking something that is not yours, selling it and keeping the money is stealing?
      I agree that it may, in some people's eyes, be too small an infraction to be prosecuted for (one book, the odd army hat), but this does not mean it is not stealing.
      Epsecially if it is done with the express purpose of selling for personal profit.

      To be issued with an Army Hat and keep it at home for years, then think "Oh, they've probably written it off now, i don;t want it, I wonder if I can get a few $ for it on EBay?" is quite different from wandering into the Army Stores thinking "I wonder which items I can get most for on EBay? "
      • " "not what people might think of as 'stolen goods' " ..."

        "ok, IANAL, but surely most people realise that taking something that is not yours, selling it and keeping the money is stealing?"

        Perhaps what the poster was referring to was that the person doing the selling did not come into posession of the item in question by a means that would normally be looked at as stealing. Not that selling them doesn't amount to stealing them.

        I go to the library and check out a book and take it home and read it. At this
        • I see your point.

          Yes, this is not the "usual" way of stealing, but at the point where he registered the book as returned, yet still kept it, I consider it stealing.

        • I used to be in the position where the library wouldn't let me check out books because they claimed I owed them $128 for overdue/non returned materials.
          Even though I tried to proved that I didn't check them out (from a library I never went to, during a time when I had lost my wallet). So I'd just take what I wanted, and return it later.
          sure, I was stealing them, but I was returning what I stolen after I was done with it.

          maybe I was in the wrong for doing that, but I felt I didn't have a choice, they would
          • LAPL does the same thing. I no longer donate books to them. Last time, I donated a few cartons of kids books (my daughters outgrew them) to my local elementary school.
          • I used to work at a library that had practices similar to this. The idea was that the reference librarians would first take a glance over what was being donated and keep what was worth keeping, and the rest that we already had too many copies of or was in a condition to make it not very useful, would go to the book sale for new books. There's only one real flaw with this plan: Reference librarians are usually busy with half a dozen other projects, and this stack of books that piles high (and I worked at a
    • I'm in the military and every now and again do a search for Military kit, ebay is crawling with brand new stuff

      Ah-ha, so *that's* where that 2nd hand aircraft carrier came from!

    • There was something similiar which happened at
      Microsoft a few months back [theregister.co.uk].

    • My dad was a paratrooper in Alaska about 25 years ago, and says this kind of thing happened all the time -- a couple of supply sergeants stole literally half the stores, transferring stuff between them to make accounts add up any time there was an inspection. Another time, my dad borrowed a lock from another guy for his locker, and the guy opened it up and took all his stuff (it's possible he was a bit naive back then, huh?).

      Anyway, the way I read this, it's probably the military that's rampant with thieve
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:25AM (#12053878) Homepage
    As a part time resident of VT the past 5 years (the majority of the fall/winter), I can't say this surprises me. Norwich is about 10 miles away and is a military oriented university. I wonder what titles he was pulling out? Anyways, this is just another creative theft of product/services. Contrary to many popular beliefs, Vermont is not the idllyic paradise many would have you believe. High welfare rates, little job growth, few police and much unreported crime. I'll give that this guy was more creative than most, but he is still the typical dirtbag.
    • Whoa whoa whoa...stop with the VT bashing.

      The truth is, Vermont really is paradise, but we only project things such as high welfare rates, little job growth, unreported crime, etc. to keep those damn flatlanders out of our state.

      Since I've been a VT resident my whole life, I've seen the state before it became the welfare-ridden, high-crime (relatively speaking), place that it is today, but until all the flatlanders move out of Burlington, we'll keep up this white trash facade!!!
  • Sales Tax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by selectspec (74651) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:26AM (#12053882)
    Great, so we get to pay taxes on online orders because some asshole stole some library books? Instead of paying the taxes, why not just shoot the jerk. Then nobody else will try it. I buy a lot of books online and they are expensive enough as it is.
    • Re:Sales Tax (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NewStarRising (580196)
      Indeed Sir, You are correct.

      No murders have been commited since the first implimentation of the Death Penalty.
      • That doesn't mean the death penalty won't deter other crimes. Maybe if I'm pissed enough to kill somebody, I don't give a fuck if I get the chair. On the other hand, how badly does anyone ever want to drive 55 mph in 25 zone? Badly enough to risk being broken up for their blood and organs on the first offense? Unlikely. So hey, let's bring in capital punishment for minor offenses. Run a red light? Death. Throw trash out on the highway? Death. Sell drugs to kids? Death.
        • Hmmm... A name like Harkobeeparolyn, I'm betting that you probably have other books about organlegging in your library. You know it's not a good idea. Be careful, someone might take you seriously.
    • Re:Sales Tax (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @11:03AM (#12054009) Homepage Journal
      That is a separate issue that the story discription didn't need to go into.
    • I wouldn't shoot him. I'd cut all of his fingers off with a pair of bolt cutters, one knuckle at a time, video it and put it on a website.

  • by jacquesm (154384) <jNO@SPAMww.com> on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:26AM (#12053884) Homepage
    on the run for the library policemen...
  • ebay policy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stefanmi (699755) * on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:31AM (#12053903)
    They are. No sales of stolen property are ever valid. A clueless person who buys stolen property at a thief's yard sale not knowing the seller stole it still is in possession of stolen property. That item can be taken from the unwitting buyer by the police and returned to the rightful owner, the person it was stolen from. If the buyer wants their money back, they have to sue the thief, which is usually a fruitless effort. So, eBay's role is that whenever they realize that property's stolen, they've gotta kill the auction in order to maintain buyer confidence in their marketplace. They don't want transactions that aren't going to work happening over their system, simply because that'd undermine the trust people have in their system.
  • Thieves are stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:32AM (#12053908) Homepage Journal
    Just shows how dumb and lazy most criminals are. I sold books on Amazon until 2 years ago, and I was able to get great stuff for virtually nothing jusst be forging ties at the library and getting their discards - plus buying cheaply from other sources. I never paid more than about ten cents per book. Is saving a dime worth going to jail for? (not to mention the moral compromise involved in stealing.)
    • It's not "stealing"... I'm sure the guy was eventually planning on returning the books, right?
    • Except discards are usually in bad condition, and the stuff this guy was stealing was NEW.
      • "discards are usually in bad condition..."

        Not really. I never bothered with those in bad condition. And the bottom line is I was getting some books I could sell for maybe two bucks each, but also many I was selling for around $30 each... and the very best, hundreds of them, I have still saved that are worth over $100 each. All for virtually nothing.

        Much better than some Bridget Jones book. And even if others couldn't be as lucky as I was, still even a $2 sale for a ten cent purchase is a better profit mar
  • Mannix (Score:5, Informative)

    by pipingguy (566974) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:36AM (#12053921) Homepage

    For the less age-challenged, the Dano (sic) reference is to Hawaii Five oh. [mjq.net] I almost wrote "Mannix", such are the problems of being over the hill. I.E., over 40.
    • by zotz (3951)
      "such are the problems of being over the hill. I.E., over 40."

      One of the benefits of being over the hill is that you can still keep going even if you run out of gas.

      No wait, it doesn't quite work like that now does it?

      Columbo, Kojak, Mike Hammer, Cannon, Spenser, Baretta, McCloud, McMillan & Wife, Banacek, Barnaby Jones, Dragnet, The Equalizer, The Fugitive, The Green Hornet, Hart to Hart, Hawaii Five-O - I watched too much TV with my family growing up.

      all the best,

      drew

      http://www.magicdragon.com/ [magicdragon.com]

      • Columbo, Kojak, Mike Hammer, Cannon, Spenser, Baretta, McCloud, McMillan & Wife, Banacek, Barnaby Jones, Dragnet, The Equalizer, The Fugitive, The Green Hornet, Hart to Hart, Hawaii Five-O.

        You apparently forgot about Kolchak, The Night Stalker. That was quirky and interesting and didn't last very long.
  • by crovira (10242) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:40AM (#12053934) Homepage
    I almost fell of my chair laughing as my wife brought me a coffee, Thank god I wasn't drinking it at the time, because my monitor would be a mess right now.

    I bet that the possibility of writing really shitty reviews about really shitty books like that only come once in a very great while.

    The beauty of self publishing authors is that, once in a very great while someone dissapoints this reader by being as charming and erudite as their subject is pithy, most of the time I am reminded that the value of editors come as much from what they don't publish, and there for spare us from, as how well they do publish what they.

    To quote Dorothy Parker: "That's not writing, that's typing."
    • To quote Dorothy Parker: "That's not writing, that's typing."

      That would be Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac.

      Dorothy Parker said, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force" and, in response to an inquiry about her recent absence from the theatre, "I've been fucking busy, and vice versa."
  • So what exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_skywise (189793) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:43AM (#12053943)
    does the theft of books from libraries have to do with:

    a> Amazon's selling of used books depriving the author's of collecting revenue.

    b> Amazon saying that it shouldn't collect state taxes because it gets no police services.

    Other than that we want to make an ad-hominem attack on Amazon and Bezos?

    Would it change what the thief did if the books showed up on EBay?
    • Re:So what exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:56AM (#12053991) Homepage
      So what exactly does the theft of books from libraries have to do with: a) Amazon's selling of used books depriving the author's of collecting revenue. b) Amazon saying that it shouldn't collect state taxes because it gets no police services.

      Not a damn thing. Like you say, the dumbass was looking for some way to denounce Amazon and Bezos. Also, he probably thought he'd finally found a good way to use the word "irony".

  • by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:43AM (#12053947)
    I know why Amazon does not want to pay sales tax and its not just the small price difference of the tax or the administrative headaches. The fact is that people really really hate paying taxes to the point of irrationality. I saw the results from an e-commerce study done by MIT on people's on-line spending habits. It showed that a person would rather go with a more expensive online store in order to avoid paying sales tax. In fact, the data suggested that people would pay $5 more for the product to avoid $1 of sales tax.

    I'm not sure what the solution is, but I'm sure that Amazon knows that being tax-free means more than it seems when it comes to consumer behavior.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      .

      That's the wrong conclusion. The conclusion that can be drawn from that study, is that many people are stupid. I see them everyday. They are out there, intermingling with the population on the other half of the curve. It's frightening when you think about it -- for every smart person, there's a complementary stupid person.

      .

      • Although I wouldn't put up with a $5/$1 difference, there is a point to paying more for shipping than is saved in sales tax: the money goes to a (presumably honest) packager or shipper instead of a politician who will use the money to extort more money from me. This is a political decision made by someone whose vision extends beyond range-of-the-moment.
        • And that is also why I purchase everything I possibly can (including couches and other large items as well as electronics, etc) via the Internet from states other than California.

          I once saved about $200 by having a computer shipped from a store in Los Angeles to an Arizona "Suite" address, and then forwarded to me back in California - and the $200 savings was *after* paying the additional shipping cost!

    • well, some of the customers ARE just plain stupid.

      and so bezos can pull their legs, it's not amazons police service that's supposed to be paid with the sales taxes. It's the customers police protection that the cash is going to.

      "next in line pays"
      • well, some of the customers ARE just plain stupid.

        Agreed! And a smart business gives its customers what they want, even if that is stupid.

        and so bezos can pull their legs, it's not amazons police service that's supposed to be paid with the sales taxes. It's the customers police protection that the cash is going to.

        You don't think local retailer get any benefit from police protection? I would imagine that crime against tax-paying retailers is a big deal, too. Armed robbery, shoplifting, embezzlem
    • It showed that a person would rather go with a more expensive online store in order to avoid paying sales tax. In fact, the data suggested that people would pay $5 more for the product to avoid $1 of sales tax.

      I think it's because people hait bait-and-switch. Many online stores don't let you see the real price (including shipping and any taxes) until after you've taken the time to enter a lot of personal information. Only then, finally, do you know what the deal really is.

      Personally I'd be much happi

      • I think it's because people hait bait-and-switch. Many online stores don't let you see the real price (including shipping and any taxes) until after you've taken the time to enter a lot of personal information. Only then, finally, do you know what the deal really is.

        You are partially right. The data also showed that people avoided shipping fees, too. But they were only willing to pay, IIRC, $1.40 to avoid $1 of those bait-and-switch shipping costs. Perhaps its a matter of expectations. On the one han
    • I hate sales tax and I like living here where there isn't any. You buy something for $99.95; give the clerk a hundred dollar bill; and get back a nickle and a 'thank you'.

      To me sales taxes will always be associated with the unlamented sleazy California politician Willie Brown. In 1992, California's government ran out of money and had to resort to issueing 'registered warrants' instead of paychecks to government workers. Willie Brown, then the Speaker of the CA Legislature, 'proposed' raising the sal
  • by Easy2RememberNick (179395) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @11:20AM (#12054074)
    Look on the bright side, it's nice to see that people are reading!
  • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @11:29AM (#12054122) Journal
    Maybe it'd be legal to do this with Blockbuster DVDs. After all, there aren't any late fees with Blockbuster.
  • It doesn't surprise me at all. I buy from Amazon.com resellers commonly, and everything usually works out fine. However, on a couple of occasions, I have recieved cheap imported pirated DVDs. Complaining on /. is more useful than contacting Amazon.com :-)

    Even if you explain, in-detail, what evidence you have that a product is illegal, the only response you'll ever get is an apology that you didn't recieve what you wanted (!!!) and an offer to refund your money if you return the item.

    They don't want to
    • isnt this what the RIAA is for? it would be nice to see the RIAA beat up on real criminals for a change, and not college students.
    • I hope that they're at least tracking complaints against stores and banninating frequent offenders.

      If your complaint doesn't come with, "Oh, we're so sorry, we'll call the police immediately," it may be because they're worried about people with a grudge. That doesn't make ignoring illegal activity through the site right, but it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to wait for a second or third complaint before taking serious action. And they're probably not going to tell you if you're the first, third, or
      • If your complaint doesn't come with, "Oh, we're so sorry, we'll call the police immediately," it may be because they're worried about people with a grudge.

        I understand, and wasn't expecting any such action. If they even acknowledged what I said about illegal activity, I'd assume they are doing something... Instead, they completely ignore what I've said, and talk about it like a simple return. They've never asked for additional about the illegal products, which no doub would be very useful to them if they

  • Although Bezos claimed that the AG "is the same organization that from time to time has advocated charging public libraries royalties on books they loan out," (from news.com.com)

    the A.G. website has a slightly different story. [authorsguild.org] Apparently the A.G. did investigate government-sponsored royalties, but funding issues and higher-priority concerns for the A.G. have halted their efforts.

    I find it interesting that the A.G. promotes such a system, described as "...a small government-funded royalty paid to authors
    • I find it interesting that the A.G. promotes such a system, described as "...a small government-funded royalty paid to authors of books borrowed from libraries." I mean, how could you determine who gets royalties without keeping track of how many times each item gets checked out? Wouldn't that raise serious privacy concerns, not to mention issues of fraud and checkout-padding for certain books?

      Libraries care about customer service. Maybe not as much as Borders and Barnes and Noble, but their mission is

  • or do the police serve subpoenas?
  • As an author, I am tempted to concur with the Author's Guild re: used book sales.

    As a voracious reader, I very much like buying used books at reduced cost. (I also buy many for reference when doing research for my own writing.)

    My libertarian leanings also give me pause at the notion of restricting free enterprise and doing what one wishes with one's own property (selling used books).

    My capitalist leanings (okay, greed, profiteering, whatever) give me pause because, after all, I write for fun AND profit.
  • An Oregon library worker was arrested after selling at least $10,000 worth of stolen library books, CDs and videotapes online in the past six months. [. . .] Bezos also once told angry booksellers there's no reason why Amazon should have to collect sales taxes, arguing that Amazon gets no police services from other states.

    Of course, Oregon does not have a sales tax. (We're weird that way.)

  • Why is a college president reading I Am Charlotte Simmons, a book about the sex life of a college co-ed? I think the perv-o-meter just hit eleven.
    • Why is a college president reading I Am Charlotte Simmons, a book about the sex life of a college co-ed?

      Two reasons: 1) It's written by the well known and respected Tom Wolfe -- it's not a sleaze book, but an attempt to seriously address the subject.

      2) Co-eds are ~50% of the student population. Lots of problems on campuses (unwanted pregnancies, unethical relationships between professors and students, etc.) originate from their sexual activities. Wouldn't be his job to understand the situation better?
  • Bezos also once told angry booksellers there's no reason why Amazon should have to collect sales taxes, arguing that Amazon gets no police services from other states."

    Yeah right. I guess I shouldn't pay taxes because I don't have any kids in school, I'm healthy, I walk to work. My apartment isn't on fire. What an ass. Heeeyy...wait a minute! Maybe I shouldn't pay any taxes! Sorry guys, If you want to operate here and benefit from our people, these are the rules. Just like building codes and health codes.
    • I'd agree except for the fact that more than half of the politicians are crooks and more than half of the civil servants are lazy, over-paid fools.

      If it were a fair system, I'd have the option of saying, "No thanks. I don't want to buy the services you are selling." Tax is no different than paying protection money. I'll be physically punished if I decide not to.

      The Government is the only body allowed to shoot me 'legally'. And they have nearly all the guns anyway. It's a total racket, and voluntarily
      • If one votes for a crook, what does that say about the voter?

        And nobody has the balls to do anything about it.

        Least of all the people who re-elect him, or support his political party.

        There was no way to vote against this.

        What? Are you under a dictatorship and nobody told me? Can't you vote them out of office? If you or your neighbors won't do that, then how can you possibly blame your gov't? I've been on this tirade for a while now, but nobody will believe me when I tell them that they do have the p
        • What? Are you under a dictatorship and nobody told me? Can't you vote them out of office?

          No. The voting system is rigged at the psychological level.

          When people are a bunch of mind-controlled brain slugs, then it is very easy to make them 'choose' that which is not good for them. Controlling populations through a host of on-going and very effective techniques, from drugs and television and religion, to the very manner in which society itself has been built, establishes the illusion of a democratic system
          • Democracy is an illusion. People are cattle. Yes, it's true that on a deep level, this is as they choose to be, but it doesn't make me content to play along just because my soul-sleeping neighbors are willing to be slaughtered. Emphasis mine.

            Glad to see that you understand, along with a few others that put up some disagreement. This is really my whole point. My whole tirade is more directed at those who continue to believe in their system.

            I'll keep yelling about this, but I'll be abandoning ship when th
          • I agree with you, for the most part... Now the question becomes how do we break out of that pattern? I agree that democracy is an illusion, and that people are cattle, but how does society break away from what has become the norm? With all the "laws" in place to make sure the system keeps running in the hands of the few, it's hard for the system to be changed. Then, the problem with changing the system is that the individual pushing for change is looked at as a loon or some nut. I fear that society has
    • You definitely should not pay taxes for the state to indoctrinate someone else's spawn. Tax-funded education (other than military academies like West Point) is monumental theft providing a lousy "service" enriching foul unions.
      • You definitely should not pay taxes for the state to indoctrinate someone else's spawn.

        I kinda think of it as a weak insurance policy in the hopes he would be educated enough to slightly reduce his chances of becoming a criminal.
  • by hotspotbloc (767418) on Sunday March 27, 2005 @06:19PM (#12061928) Homepage Journal
    Back in the late '80s I was asked by a NFP group to catalog their collection, about 6k of rare books dating back to the 1500's but most from the 1700 to 1900 and scan some of their more interesting ones.

    As a rule on such jobs I always required a staff member with me at all times and required that my bags (computer, scanner, etc) be inspected at the entrance and the exit. True CYA. The first day I went to inspect the collection it was clear it had been "groomed". Telltall dust lines in drawers that should not have had been openned in years lead to the possiblity many books were missing. I quickly told them I had no interest in stepping into their mess and advised them to call the Boston PD right way.

    My guess was someone was grabbing what look valuable and didn't know how to cover their tracks. It was also likely that person was still there.

    The sad thing was there were a number of books I would've looked to have copies of, but it never happened.

    Atleast some places, like the BLP, has very good security of the rare books. Once you get known as a researcher their they were pretty cool. Still strick, but still cool. Of course this was before the BPL was gutted. I fear in ten years it will a Starbuck's and Border's.

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