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Books Media The Almighty Buck

Book 'Em, Dano 150

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, 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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 NewStarRising ( 580196 ) < minus berry> 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? "
  • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @11:47AM (#12054191) Homepage Journal
    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

    the A.G. website has a slightly different story. [] 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 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?

    And then who gets to put media in the library? I mean I could put together some pamphlets about linux or FOSS, and then give them to my local library to put on the shelf. If my friends and I check them out (for free) every few days, we can get money back, right?

    What would we do with websites? People coming into the library are increasingly doing so to access the Internet (especially in lower-income areas where most people do not have access at home). If someone does research online and finds good information on, shouldn't Wikipedia get some money for that? Who is to say that Britannica deserves royalties for its 3year-old Encyclopedia but Wikipedia doesn't deserve them for its own upkeep of hardware and bandwidth?

    If this happens I can see people forming new "free libraries" -- not free for borrowing, but free from any monitoring or recording of who checked out what, when. I thought up a couple of neat ways to do this a while back as a way to 'get around' terms in the PATRIOT Act -- generally including public/private keypairs and money held in escrow (in the event that the materials were not returned). It would be a shame if people felt forced to go out and implement something like this.
  • by JWhitlock ( 201845 ) <John-Whitlock AT ieee DOT org> on Saturday March 26, 2005 @03:33PM (#12055335)
    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 to serve a community, and every few years they need to get that community to vote on bond issues to pay for new and updated facilities, not to mention employee salaries. You bet your life that libraries keep track of what books are being checked out, what books seem to always be on hold, etc. It helps determine what books they need more copies of, and to anticipate demand for new releases.

    That being said, it would be silly, for many of the reasons you mention, to attach royalties to books checked out of the library. Like music, only the most recent books and the best selling series are in enough demand to make the extra bookkeeping worth it. In fact, its only the music where I see this extra accounting being worthwhile, since it is trivial to check out a CD, rip it to MP3, and return it the next day.

    Libraries also know that their customers are worried about the PATRIOT act and have other privacy concerns. Our local library now has a policy that customers are linked to books in the database for as short a period as possible - namely, for as long as I have the book checked out or a fine due on a late book. So, now you have a little extra incentive to pay those $.05 late fees.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @06:52PM (#12056549) Journal
    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 wouldn't let me check anything out.

    What really pisseed me off, was I used to get new books, maybe I read them once, or didn't want them, I'd give them to the library. Then I found out they sell all the donations they give, and use that money to buy new books.
    How stupid is that? I give them a brand new book, they sell it for probably 1/4 or less of the price. Namely, Seattle Public librarys suck.

    and no, I no longer use them. I just download the books i want to read in ebook format, and read them on my PDA.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton