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Bookstore Owner Burns Books 371

Several readers sent us links to an AP story about a pair of Kansas City booksellers who staged a book bonfire, claiming to protest declining literacy. The story doesn't convey a sure sense of the booksellers' motives for what could, in fact, be a PR stunt or a subtle act of extortion against book lovers — it does mention that people were buying books out of the piles awaiting immolation. The bookstore's own site tries to sound sincere, but it offers visitors a chance to save books from the flames for $1 each plus postage.
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Bookstore Owner Burns Books

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  • So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    If no one else has noticed, the world is AWASH in books. Technology has made book production so cheap that any idiot can publish a book.

    Come to think of it, maybe this guy is onto something. With the price of firewood so high, maybe I can get a bunch of used books for less money to burn.

    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:55PM (#19304217)
      i just got done righting a book you insensitive moran
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daviddennis ( 10926 )
      I think he's trying to take advantage of readers' affection for books. You could see that in the article, where a good number of people "adopted" them for $1 each.

      But that's interesting because it proves his original point wrong, no? There are many people who care about books.

      On the other hand, his article got mentioned on Slashdot and now everyone knows where to go for $1 books if they happen to live in his area. So it might be a brilliant publicity stunt that's worth about $20,000 ($1 x 20,000 books) t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        FWIW, I know a couple who have an internet bookselling business. They started in the used book business years ago, pre-Web, selling rare and collectible books. The main way they procured a lot of their books were through estate sales, and usually ended up with large amounts of books that were of no value to them.

        When the Web came around, they started doing a bit of business in the collectible books, but they soon found that there was a far larger market for the "garbage" books at $3-5 a book, and they s

        • A couple of years ago someone who sold on eBay gave me lots of hints for selling books. Basically estate buy anything but Joan Collins type books because all 999,999 of her true believer readers buy every book in the first printing. So there is zero residual interest in a Joan Collins style book.

          The KC gentleman picked awful places to dump his books. He mentioned libraries. Libraries are going digital now. By the way, this very second is a most EXCELLENT time in ALL OF HISTORY to load up on bound magazines
        • what's garbage? (Score:3, Interesting)

          That's the salient question--what counts as garbage? HP Lovecraft was a pulp writer, but certain rarer editions of his go for over $100 on Ebay. That I don't want it may qualify it as garbage to me, but someone keeps buying Michael Jordan commemorative retrospectives and simular stuff. The Left Behind series, which is artistically horrible and even biblically unsound, sold a bajillion copies.

          I personally like to hunt down hardback copies of books I like, even books I already own. A hardback set (with

      • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by morcego ( 260031 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:41PM (#19304557)

        I think he's trying to take advantage of readers' affection for books. You could see that in the article, where a good number of people "adopted" them for $1 each.

        So it might be a brilliant publicity stunt that's worth about $20,000 ($1 x 20,000 books) to him.

        I agree it is a publicity stunt. At the same time he is buying worthless (to him) books, he is selling signed copies of Harry Potter (literary garbage, even if it has entertaining values).

        Is he worried about literacy ? Let him burn high profile, expensive books that have low literary value, like his "The Da Vinci Code Advance Reading Copy" or his signed "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets".

        Actually, if you consider storage space costs money, it is very likely that he is saving money by burning these books.

        He also says for people to buy and donate the books to promote literacy (or some crap like that). Well, why is he burning the books instead of donating them ? Well, lets review:

        1) Publicity
        2) Saving storage space
        3) Getting people to "adopt" some of these books

        Which translates to:

        1) Profit
        2) Money saving
        3) Profit

        Not a bad deal, hum ?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          he is selling signed copies of Harry Potter (literary garbage, even if it has entertaining values).

          That's what the "cognoscenti" said about Huckleberry Finn, Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, and [name your classic children's book]. The Harry Potter is destined to become a classic. They might not please the intellectual elite, but their incredible depth and breadth of plot along with its self-consistent world is an amazing achievement. And if you think they're shallow, as many do, then I respectfully sub

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by morcego ( 260031 )
            I've read them, read the sites, and even gave the (current) collection for my daughter. They have some intellectual value, and great entertainment properties.

            As far as literary value is concerned, they have almost as much as a Spiderman comic book, which I do love, and still think has no literary value.

            So you point is what exactly ? That every good book has good literary value ?
  • won't RTFA (Score:5, Funny)

    by digitalderbs ( 718388 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:47PM (#19304149)
    I couldn't be bothered to read TFA... what's this about?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:51PM (#19304173)
      Disposal issues with legacy media platforms.
      • Re:won't RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aldheorte ( 162967 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:02PM (#19304679)
        This is both insightful and funny. Within the next couple decades, books may become antiques. They really are legacy media platforms. I actually like reading a book better than reading on a computer, but two things:

        1. I'm dated. I grew up reading books on paper, pre-Internet. This is not true of new generations. I had a vertigo moment the other day when I was on a train and I heard a young girl who was maybe eight years old telling her grandmother, with full confidence, of information she had found on this and that web site. There was no awe in her voice, this was all very matter of fact. In her world view, the Internet was simply an assumed platform, not something new. There are cognitively mature people alive today who have never known the Internet NOT to exist.
        2. Surely within the next couple decades electronic book reading technology will get parity on heft, size of screen, resolution, and outdoor viewing.

        I think I'll go read a book now for old times' sake.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Surely within the next couple decades electronic book reading technology will get parity on heft, size of screen, resolution, and outdoor viewing.

          More like in a year or two, actually. The existing eInk/ePaper readers are almost there - 200dpi, size of an average pocket book, and readable in sunlight. The only problem is the contrast, the background on present model is still somewhat greyish compared to good paper. But they've already shown the prototype screens which are of a much brighter white, just as g

          • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @04:50AM (#19306435)
            eBooks won't catch on until they lose the DRM, or come up with a DRM that's standard and compatible across most platforms and transparent to most users. Right now the publishing industry is absolutely mortified that what happend to the RIAA is going to happen to them, and they're keeping a tight stranglehold on nearly all books published in electronic format. As long as the DRM makes you lose your books if you upgrade or the eBook breaks down, people aren't going to want it. The publishers also need to come back down to reality and start pricing them for less than regular books, not more.

            Long-term they will take over primarily because you can store an entire library in a unit the size of a single paperback. But the publishers need to accept progress, otherwise the market is going to be dominated by pirated books that have simply been scanned, OCR'ed, and shared via P2P.

        • Yes, just about all reference books can be electronic, so they can be searched quickly. You MAY still want a paper copy so you have static info--governments like to retroactively edit the past, you know. How many times have we changed the meaning of "unemployment" now?

          But I'm skeptical that computers/electronics will take much of literature-reading from books. Books are cheap to the point of being disposable. I have books that I picked up used and I've had for 20 years--economically, they're worth not

    • by setirw ( 854029 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:52PM (#19304181) Homepage
      lol i dunno sumting abot pore liturcy in the us lol!!1
    • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:13PM (#19304333)
      Firefighters are underemployed as there are fewer books to burn these days.
      • What is the best title for the preceding post?
        a. Re:won't RTFA
        b. Wooden Food
        c. Fighting Fires with Books
        d. Fahrenheit 824291
        e. The Cowboy Neal Code
    • Re:won't RTFA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SadGeekHermit ( 1077125 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @08:00AM (#19307407)
      Some guy has a used bookstore in Kansas City. This bookstore has a small warehouse area for storing used books he's bought but hasn't sold yet.

      His bookstore doesn't sell as many books as he would like, and he is taking in more books than he is selling. He wanted to get rid of some of his backlog of books, by taking them to other bookstores and libraries and such, but none of them wanted his books (they probably had their own backlogs and stock to deal with).

      He flipped his wig and started throwing them into a huge cauldron, burning them. He announced that people could "adopt" them for a buck apiece, and save them from the fire, in a ghastly "Give me a dollar or the book gets it!" kind of thingy.

      Because our culture is relatively horrified by the idea of book burning, seeing as how it is tied directly to certain extremely evil periods in the past, and totalitarianism, and censorship, he came up with a delightfully nutty excuse for his bonfire. Specifically, he said that his bonfire was a protest against illiteracy, amazing when books like Farenheit 451 were about how book-burning were all about FORCED illiteracy.

      He made some stock complaints about how estate sales usually had five TV's and three books, blah blah blah, and threw some more books on the fire.

      Then the fire department got fed up with the mess and put it out, telling him to knock it off and get a permit next time (of course, when he asks for a permit, they're going to deny it for some logistical reason, so no more book burning for him!).

      I think that about wraps it up.

      Short version: Ding Bat Goes Bananas Burns Books Annoys Fire Department Gets 15 Minutes of Fame and is Promptly Forgotten.

  • by setirw ( 854029 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:50PM (#19304165) Homepage
    I'd guess Fahrenheit 451.
  • Fahrenheit 451? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PoliTech ( 998983 )
    "Nobody listens any more. . . . . . I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it'll make sense."

    Ray Bradbury

  • I've been reading mostly ebooks for a while. They can be read on a cell phone, on a pc, on a PDA, and anything that can read ASCII or PDF and are sure easier to carry than normal paper books. Seeing that I now measure my reading habits in megabytes instead of pages, I think it's pretty unintelligent to say that because books are being sold less literacy is declining.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I tend to favor paper books. They're easier on my eyes, I can read them whether there's electricity or not, plus there's something to be said for tactile and scent memory being linked to information.

      Granted, I keep copies of most of my reference books in electronic format, but they generally only get used if I'm away somewhere with my laptop.
    • I prefer reading printed books but don't have room for very many on my bookshelf , so to save space, ebooks are a good alternative. I have sometimes had to throw out old books to make room for new ones. Of course, I always felt guilty doing that, but I did not know what else to do with them. Instead of doing that, I could easily fit an entire library of many thousands of books on one small hard drive. There are may older books, in which the copyrights have expired, as well as some occasional newer books

  • PR stunt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aminion ( 896851 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:53PM (#19304189)
    Because you cannot just give the damn books away, right? Heck, recycling the books at part of a PR stunt would be better than burning them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 )
      My understanding from the article is that he did try to give them away but nobody would take them. Which, if true, is indeed a sad reflection on our times. That this is occurring at the same time the Hay on Wye Festival is taking place (one of the largest and most important literary festivals, in a town where you can't move for book stores) makes it positively sick and twisted.

      Hell, why didn't he just ship the books to Hay? I'm sure they have room for Yet Another bookstore - there must be something there

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg ( 230075 )

        My understanding from the article is that he did try to give them away but nobody would take them. Which, if true, is indeed a sad reflection on our times. That this is occurring at the same time the Hay on Wye Festival is taking place (one of the largest and most important literary festivals, in a town where you can't move for book stores) makes it positively sick and twisted.

        Some books are literally not worth the paper they're printed on. Like "a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910", for a specific example from TFA. Saving books just because they're printed words bound into a cover is overly reverent of print for print's sake. How about saving every newspaper ever printed? Magazines? Catalogs? Monumental stacks of how-to books for defunct software (Lotus 1-2-3 for Dummies [DOS] [])? Where do you draw the line?

    • Books don't recycle well. The problem is that the binding - with all the glue - must be removed first. You can't run any bookbinding glue through the paper recycling process or it will gum it up. The cost of the labor to remove the binding makes a book have a negative value for a recycler.
  • Triad of Inquisition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:54PM (#19304207)
    I read about this earlier, and have three questions: 1) Is this a sincere protest about a supposed lack of reading among the US population? Millions of new unsold books are pulped each year, so this just sounds illogical. or 2) Is this a bizarre marketing ploy? and 3) Is there a list of which books you can "save" for a dollar each? Can you select them? How much is shipping and handling? Enough to turn "saved" into "positive profit margin," I suspect.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It's just another way to show that the USA is sliding in barbarism and showing active participation in this process. I'm a bit out of touch but aren't there a lot of poorly funded schools looking for just about any reading material they can get their hands on?
      • Any reading material, highly improbable. According to the US Census Bureau, average spending per pupil in 2004 was $8,287.
    • by zeroduck ( 691015 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @12:47AM (#19305287)

      Theres a great way to save old books--BookMooch []. People list their unwanted books to give away to other users of the website. It's pretty simple--list your books for 1/10th point each, receive 1 point for giving a book away, and spend 1 point to get a book from another member.

      ...and thats my pimping BookMooch speech.

      I'd doubt that there is enough profit at $1 a book to organize and store the books--you're talking about a lot of books. Most older books just don't have much of a market value; I assure you that nothing you would want to read was destroyed (although, I still cringe on the thought of burning books).

  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:54PM (#19304209) Journal
    Did he buy his carbon offsets for the burning of these books?
  • Don't burn them, but where is the link to buy?
    • I don't think there ever was a link to buy; if there was, I couldn't find it. I think it's a PR ploy. TFA mentions a man buying an "antique collection of children's literature" for his son, and as well a woman buying "an armload of books on art, music, and education." He could, if he cared to, probably remarket those sorts of books at Powell's, Alibris, Thriftbooks, or even on Amazon, which does a brisk secondhand books business via its assorted vendors. If he had wanted to actually resell the books, he cou
  • ...that is:

    > The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the
    > Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne
    > didn't have a permit for burning.

    So, Bob's your uncle.

  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @09:58PM (#19304243) Homepage
    Especially the extremely popular titles he has listed on his website. Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code? Sheesh, those books are so common they aren't worth the paper they're printed on. It's no loss if he burns them.

    The thing is that the vast majority of books become useless once you've read them. Especially mass market fiction like Da Vinci and Potter. No one wants them because everyone that wanted to read them has, so there's an enormous surplus. With sights like selling books like these essentially for shipping charges, why would buy them at a brick-and-mortar? It's cheaper and easier to just pull up Amazon, click 3-4 times and wait a week. Most of the time you're buying from a used bookstore just like this guy with a surplus of that book and just wants to get rid of it and make a dollar on the shipping.
  • "I think, given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it's the best way to do it," Bechtel said. "(Wayne has) made the point that not reading a book is as good as burning it."

    Perpetuating the stereotype of books being the domain of crazy nerds is the best way to encourage widespread literacy?

    Seems to me the only thing Wayne's "made" is at least thirty bucks, judging from the article.

  • ...they weren't complaining. Could it be that because of a certain online bookstore the sales of brick'n'mortar stores are somewhere near the bottom?
  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:02PM (#19304257)
    What an idiot. He could donate them to libraries, schools, prisons, whatever. He could also just recycle the paper. Burning them pollutes and adds to the CO2 loading. I hope someone from the EPA will be there to slap him with some nice fines for smoke and such and someone from the fire department to nail him if he doesn't have proper safeguards in place.

    Some of the big box chains (Borders, Barnes & Noble) could be why his sales are down. Same for Amazon.

    Personally, I think it's a publicity stunt.
    • by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:16PM (#19304353) Journal
      but my lady worked @ BGI (Borders/Waldenbooks/Brentanos/Paperchase) for almost ten years, but recently left. The company is in dire straights even though they also sell multimedia.

      While many adults buy plenty of product, there is apparently a large decline in teens buying the latest album or DVD box-set.

      Hmmmm. I bet all those kids are legally paying for their multimedia on Amazon and E-Bay... wait... no I don't.

      Either way, burning books is stupid.


      P.S. Apparently you will see Borders diversifying heavily over the next couple years. They have already slated 1/2 of the Waldenbook operations for closure even though they are marginally profitable. Apparently not having floor space to diversify into higher tech stock was the death knell for those stores. There is even a rumor of download kiosks & cell phone kiosks slated for test markets. *ROFL* There was a rumor of a partnership w/B&N floating around earlier this year.
    • It says he tried to donate the books but was unable to find any takers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Osty ( 16825 )

      What an idiot. He could donate them to libraries, schools, prisons, whatever. He could also just recycle the paper. Burning them pollutes and adds to the CO2 loading. I hope someone from the EPA will be there to slap him with some nice fines for smoke and such and someone from the fire department to nail him if he doesn't have proper safeguards in place.

      Way to RTFA! He did try donating them, I assume to local libraries, schools, thrift shops, etc. Nobody wanted them. And then when he tried to burn th

    • Actually, many of the local libraries in the city where he burned them won't take donated books. I don't know why, but last I was told, it was something to do with liability. I know, I donated some books in hopes to see them put on the shelves for others, but instead even though they were in mint condition, they were sold for a mere pittance at the library bookstore to raise money to buy other books :(
      • by shalla ( 642644 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:13AM (#19309457)
        I'm a librarian. Having worked at several libraries in different states (and in very different socioeconomic climates), I can address the book donation issue.

        Book donations can be both helpful to libraries or a really big drain on time and resources. Occasionally, someone donates a rare book, or a book we find we need or want, or one we've been trying to get. More often, though, by the time people donate copies of a book, the library has purchased, catalogued, and processed (put all the stickers and security items, etc. on the book) copies of that book already. Unless the library's copy is missing or in very poor condition, it doesn't make sense to take the staff time and use the extra processing materials it would take to add an extra copy that probably won't circulate much. (If 50 people are going to check out a certain book, and the library already has a sufficient number of copies to meet that demand, adding another copy isn't doing anything except taking up often precious shelf space. It doesn't mean more people get to take out the book.)

        All that, of course, is assuming the book is in mint condition. While you were a good citizen and donated books in good condition, other people try to use libraries as a dumping ground. I've seen books covered in cat urine, mold, food, and some things we couldn't even identify that were given to libraries. My old library had to contract with someone to come and haul away the books that couldn't even be sold at the book sale. Sometimes they had to call and ask for a special pick up, because the items were making us sick. And sometimes, people donated items that no library would add and no one ever wanted to buy, like encyclopedia sets from 1972 or health textbooks from 1980.

        Keep in mind that every item donated requires someone to look at it and make a decision. That's taking the time of someone who has to know the library collection and the reading patterns of the patrons pretty well. Many libraries no longer accept donations to put in the collection simply because they were not cost effective--paying a staff member (in large libraries, volunteers often do not know the collection well enough) to sort through the dross was costing more than the library was saving through the addition of the few books it found worth adding. Some accept them only for sale in book sales or book stores because then they only have to weed out the completely unacceptable donations, which requires no knowledge of the library collection, just common sense.

        So if a beautiful book you donate to the library ends up in a book sale, please don't be upset. Chances are it finds a good home with someone who enjoys it for years to come, and the library gets money it needs to buy needed materials. It may not be quite the way you envisioned it, but many times, the library is actually getting more value from using your book this way.

        Anyways, I hope my explanation helped explain why some libraries might not accept donations (especially in bulk from a store owner), or why donations might end up in a book sale rather than on a library shelf. Please know that we DO appreciate the people who donate their books in good condition to the library, and in a perfect world we'd like to put them all on the shelf, but we lack the time, space, and materials to do so, so instead we do the best we can.

        As to the book store owner who tried to donate all his extra stock to libraries and was upset when they wouldn't take them, I'd like to repeat that libraries are not a dumping ground. We don't need 150 copies of The Da Vinci Code any more than you do. We have our copies already, and we're not going to have any more luck selling those copies at book sales than you had. Essentially, he overestimated how many copies he could sell and ended up with stock problems which he is blaming on society, and when he couldn't make nonprofits fix the problem for him, he came up with a way to make it a marketing campaign. I don't really have much sympathy for him.

        p.s. If you want t
  • Book sales (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:10PM (#19304313)
    Book sales aren't decreasing, they're slowly increasing--generally 1% a year or above, I think. What's happening is the same thing that's happening in the rest of our markets: a few major superstore chains are muscling out the middle guys. The dynamics of the market are changing, too--as with video, the post popular works are sucking up a larger and larger percentage of buyers, while mid-list titles are losing market-share. More mid-list books are being published than used to be, I think, though some publishing houses are cutting back--but it's much harder for a mid-list book to gain a devoted readership, because big chains require publishers to pay them promotion fees for things like book placement near the counter, whereas independent stores would put interesting things or things they thought would sell near the counter, and that included mid-list books without the same advertising budget. The cost of advertising/marketing/promotion as a percentage of book sales has also skyrocketed, while the royalties paid to authors who actually write the books haven't kept up with inflation.

    Also, the profit margin on in the publishing industry is relatively small. (I want to say around 7%, but that could be wrong, and of course it varies somewhat by publishing house.) For booksellers, I'm not sure--a very large percentage of a book's sale at list price is above what the bookseller paid for it, but I don't know how overhead and employee salaries figure into the equation.

    That being said, while book sales are increasing (and have almost every year since we started keeping track of them), the amount of time we spend reading has started to decrease drastically. (Look up the NEA "Reading at Risk" study.) Similarly, the breadth (and I believe quantity) of books ordered by library collections has decreased. And the budgets of educational libraries are increasingly being swallowed up by effectively monopolistic journal publishers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Hardcover sales are comping well. Paperbacks are generally not. Large chain profit margin on HC/CL (hardcover) >= 40%.

      I guarantee you, though, the major chains are not doing well. See my post elsewhere in this thread. Borders just rolled their entire upper management over AGAIN, began plans to spin off all international operations, and is closing 50% of the Waldenbooks & BX branded stores.

      Getting to be a revolving door in Ann Arbor, and with good reason.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )
      IANA(U&R)BABIUTBO. (I Am Not A (Used & Rare) Bookseller Anymore But I Used To Be One.)

      Book sales aren't decreasing, they're slowly increasing--generally 1% a year or above, I think. What's happening is the same thing that's happening in the rest of our markets: a few major superstore chains are muscling out the middle guys.

      Which pretty much has nothing to do with Prospero's - as it is a used and rare bookstore.

      In the used & rare market, the bricks and mortar specialist has been

  • $1 each plus postage

    Strange, that's what online used book stores charge for most of their books anyway. Postage being $3 or $4 a book, of course. Is there some obscure tax or accounting reason that makes them do this? Or is it just that most people are too stupid to check how they're getting gouged on S&H?

    I'm happy with people being parted with their money over something this stupid. All libraries and bookstores destroy books. There isn't enough room for them all. Stealing from the stupid is a good

  • You protest declining literacy by BURNING books? Isn't that a little umm.....ironically incorrect? Why don't they burn radios or TVs instead? I'm certain the presence of those devices cause declining literacy more than books do... >_>
  • Has anyone noticed the prices on books lately? New hardbacks are going for $25 to $30 USD, and mass market paperbacks are going for $8 USD. I read typically five or six books a month. But they're mostly paperbacks where I can buy four for the price of three, and other books when there's a 30% off discount of the retail price. When I was a kid, I could get ten paperback books for $30 USD and be set for the next three months. These days I can barely get more than four. If it true that large numbers of n
    • It's much better than here in Australia, where new paperback novels typically go for A$20. That's over US$16. What's more, in Australia it's very typical to pay the MSRP (called RRP here), whereas in the US even a major chain like Borders will give you at least 10% off the price printed on the back.
  • ...books burn YOU!
  • Send'em to Iraq... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ibn_khaldun ( 814417 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:28PM (#19304447)

    There are a whole lot of libraries (or what's left of them) in Iraq that got burned involunarily in the "stuff happens" period following the U.S. invasion that would probably love to have a bunch of material in English -- "I for one welcome our new English-speaking overlords" -- and if this guy wants to make a statement, why not just load all of the stuff in a cargo container and ship it over there?

    I've actually been to this place. Unlike most /.-ers, I live in the benighted state of Kansas and this place is just two blocks from the University of Kansas Medical Center, where I've spent more time than I would have liked... It's quite a groovy little bookstore -- reminds me a lot of City Lights in San Francisco. Yes, even in Kansas we know about things like City Lights. We also walk on two legs, but only because the Chinese invented the wheelborrow. About 4,000 years after Creation.

    In principle, it is a bookstore well worth supporting. But in light of all of the folks in the world who would love to use these books to improve their English, this book-burning gesture seems misguided. To say nothing of reinforcing the view of Kansans as more or less like Neanderthals, but with less intellectual sophistication. Though truth be told, this bookstore is a full 50 meters on the Missouri side of the state line, so don't blame Kansas. Please. Now excuse me while I go club something for dinner.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:30PM (#19304467)
    This little spectacle isn't even CLOSE to the "send money or I'll kill and eat this cute bunny" web site. Books? Pah! Warm and fuzzy -> Hassenpfeffer: true drama.
  • by rampant mac ( 561036 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:32PM (#19304489)
    ...who staged a book bonfire, claiming to protest declining literacy.

    Yeah, that helps. I'm going to shoot some people and scream at the top of my lungs about gun safety.

    Es brennt!

  • Literacy is at an all time high in human history. Books are plentiful, governments and non-profit organizations are getting serious about education, and with the popularity of the internet and mobile phone texting in most of the world there is significant incentives for people to become literate.

    Being able to read no only enriches your life, it now lets you participate in the latest fads and is now a requirement for most modern forms of socialization.

    Although some people believe that the word literacy means
    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      I will point out that he actually was talking about a decline in the number of people who read for pleasure, not who are able to read. So it really isn't about literacy like the title/summary would lead you to believe, but hey this is /. what do you expect?
  • Well, I'll be up that way during the Louisville Lebowskifest. I'll make sure to incinerate at least one body, and one car, as I play with the nihilists.
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:39PM (#19304547)
    ...but it offers visitors a chance to save books from the flames for $1 each plus postage...

    How much to donate books? I can get my hands on few by Ann Coulter :-)

    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      Actually I heard there was a much less reported scandal here. It seems that a number of senior officials from the government and Halliburton were there with large reams of papers that they had written various titles onto. The whole thing was discovered when they found "Hairy Poter and the ordur of the Fenix" written in George Bush's handwriting among the stacks.
    • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @08:15AM (#19307501)
      Why not skip to the source and just burn Ann Coulter?
  • by Nemus ( 639101 ) <> on Monday May 28, 2007 @10:53PM (#19304617) Journal
    But I really think this guy should be shot. Not in the head or anything, but maybe in the leg or arm or hand: someplace he'll remember. Oh, poor baby can't give the books away? There are schools and libraries the world over, Goodwills and Salvation Armies, etc., that would love to have some if not all of these books.

    No, this guy just wants to generate more sales, and to do so in the most inhumane, barbaric, evil way possible. People who burn books are disguisting, and honestly, if I lived in this area, the thought of a book store owner, of all people, who was willing to burn a book, would ensure that I would never, ever, ever purchase anything at his establishment ever again. Burning any book, good or bad, whether you approve of it or not, is a crime against humanity; it is a violation against the essence of human genius, creativity, and generation, be it hate speech or a widely acclaimed work of art (hell, even a Tom Clancy novel). And for a book store owner, whom one would assume would be a bibliophile, to do this, is monstrous. Like I said: shoot him.

    • Feel the same way about digital books?

      Whats the difference between paper books and software anyway? Books cost a bit more to duplicate, but can be made easily these days.
      • For me, something digital has always had the idea of transience at its core. I've never felt that any sort of digital media is permanent, or lasting, or really tangible in any sense. As such, someone deleting an adobe copy of a book is nothing to me, per se, though I do prefer that websites and resource sites remain open and preserved, if no other reason that just convenience.

        Maybe it's the bibliophile in me, but a book has always seemed more permanent. Now, this might be a little hypocritical in an ag

    • by bidule ( 173941 )

      And another example of self-righteous drivel getting modded up. Anyone who RTFA knows this is just plain wrong.
  • My e-Books that is! HA!
  • From the article:

    Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero's Books.

    So he has a lot of excess stock that he is renting a warehouse to store. That is, because he's taken in more books than he has sold, he's now losing money storing a bunch of books.

    But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn't even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full.

    Oh, sure; they'd take that rare report from t

  • by CompMD ( 522020 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:34PM (#19304887)
    was Greensburg, KS. You know, that city that got wiped off the face of the earth a few weeks ago by an F5 tornado? The citizens are trying to rebuild, but they have nothing. Here's a perfect example of people in need of books, and this guy who is a few hours drive away burns them. What a waste.

    I have written a thoughtful letter to the bookstore asking that instead of staging another burning, that he look around the Kansas City area to find an organization that would haul the books away to Greensburg to help them out. I live in Kansas, and when I get a few free days, I'd be more than happy to load up my station wagon with books and drive them down to Greensburg.
  • by jrutley ( 723005 ) on Monday May 28, 2007 @11:39PM (#19304933)
    where they BOUGHT a whole bunch of French wine and poured it down the sewers. This book burning seems about as smart to me as that.
  • Uh, isn't this exactly what the illiterate would *want* to do?

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein