Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Here's something sad and bizarre

Molly sent me this link to a sad, strange story about a bookstore in Kansas City burning books in protest because they couldn't get anyone to take the surplus books off their hands. The story and the accompanying video are rather vague about the situation, so I'm not sure what the real point is. When you think about it, isn't it irresponsible to collect so many books that you can't get rid of, and then expect people to take them off your hands when you don't want them anymore?

I agree with the owners that the decline in reading in the U.S. is deplorable, but I fail to see how burning books is going to "spark a conversation" about it (sorry about the pun, but I was quoting!), especially a productive one. Chris recently posted about the topic after he read an article about the lack of reading today, and there was a more productive conversation in the reader comments section than I imagine could be garnered by burning a bunch of books. Maybe it was the cheapest way they could think of to get rid of them - disguised as a protest? I'd hate to believe that.


  1. I saw a news story on this one. I personally thought that this was ridiculous. There are better ways to make your point...the books could have been better put to use by donating them to an orphanage or a library rather than burning them.

    I guarantee you if they would have put these books up on ebay for say $10 for a random lot of 20 books, they would've sold them all...and it would've been a lot more money than burning them! I was appalled when I saw them all going up in flames. I don't know how you can call yourself a bibliophile and do that!!

  2. I agree with Chris that donating the books or selling them cheap online (which in fact many stores do through the Amazon marketplace) would have been a far better response to the situation. Not to mention that having so many surplus books likely indicates more about the store owner's lack of business sense than it does about the lack of readers. While it's true that it's tough for bookstores out there, many of them make do without pulling stunts like this.

    Honestly, it sounds to me like he made some bad business decisions, expected that magically readers would come to him, and lost his temper when it didn't all work out like in his daydreams.

  3. It really is bizarre. Given the books away would obviously do much more to increase reading than burning ever could.

  4. Chris - I totally agree with you. I guess it would have taken too much effort to bother selling them on eBay or whatever. I don't know what kind of books they were, or in what sort of condition they were in, but you wouldn't think it would be that difficult to do something more constructive than burning them!

    Heather - yes, definitely! Very bad business decisions were clearly made here. What a mess!

    And Nymeth - very well said! I fail to see how burning books could possibly make people suddenly change their lifestyles and start reading! Sounds like a copout to me.


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