The New York Times has a great piece online about the rise of book theft. I can understand the increase in general shoplifting, but of books? Why not just go to a library? You have all the material you could want for free (provided you return it on time).
I found a couple of things in the essay really interesting:
"At BookPeople in Austin, Tex., the rate of theft has increased to approximately one book per hour."
Holy moly! Is it just me, or it that pretty significant? Say a store is open from 11 to 9 - at the end of the day, 10 books are missing. That's about 300 a month! And at $10 to $25 a pop (based on average new paperback and hardback prices), that's $3,000 to $7,500 of lost revenue. Wow.
"Fiction is the most commonly poached genre at St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village of Manhattan; the titles that continually disappear are moved to the X-Case, safely ensconced behind the counter. This library of temptation includes books by Martin Amis, Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Raymond Carver, Don DeLillo and Jack Kerouac, among others. Sometimes the staff isn’t sure whether an author is still popular to swipe until they return their books to the main floor. 'Amis went out and came right back,' Michael Russo, the manager, told me."
Some picky thieves there. Again, has no one heard of a library? Books by these writers aren't exactly hard to find, and the article makes it sound like everyday reading copies are being pinched, not signed first editions.
So why are people doing it? Because a book's just another item to steal, like alcohol or razors? To make a point about knowledge being free and accessible? Or just for kicks?