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Bookstore Owner Burns Books

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the you'll-never-see-this-book-alive-again dept.

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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So what? (3, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304147)

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? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304217)

i just got done righting a book you insensitive moran

Re:So what? (2, Funny)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304775)

"i just got done righting a book you insensitive moran"

Really? What was wrong with it?

Re:So what? (2, Funny)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304807)

Yes, that was the joke. Also moran, to further grind it into the dirt. It's dead. Happy now?

Re:So what? (2, Interesting)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304315)

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) to him.

D

Re:So what? (2, Interesting)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304431)

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 since set up a warehouse with a bar code system and soon that became the primary focus of their business. They still sell rare books but more out of passion than for the money.

They own a Lamborghini Countach, so I assume they're doing pretty good at it. Just an anecdote, I know, but a counterpoint to the argument that no one wants the "garbage" books.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

morcego (260031) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:So what? (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304597)

Still, $1+shipping is pretty good (as long as you don't find a 20lb. book).

won't RTFA (5, Funny)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304149)

I couldn't be bothered to read TFA... what's this about?

Re:won't RTFA (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304173)

Disposal issues with legacy media platforms.

Re:won't RTFA (4, Insightful)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:won't RTFA (5, Funny)

setirw (854029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304181)

lol i dunno sumting abot pore liturcy in the us lol!!1

Re:won't RTFA (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304333)

Firefighters are underemployed as there are fewer books to burn these days.

Re:won't RTFA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304611)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us] . Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Re:won't RTFA (1)

myth24601 (893486) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304685)

"I couldn't be bothered to read TFA... what's this about?"

A book review of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" by Thomas Wolfe. I think the reviewer hated it.

Re:won't RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304799)

That's funny, but consider this... people on /. are less concerned about which books are being burned than they are about the CO2 emissions (no joke, counted them).

It's an f'd up world we live in. Thanks Al Gore.

Wonder what books they burned... (5, Funny)

setirw (854029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304165)

I'd guess Fahrenheit 451.

Re:Wonder what books they burned... (1)

Blahbooboo3 (874492) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304503)

Wow, I can't believe your post was not modded up! Geesh, people really don't read anymore! No self-respecting nerd/geek should miss this reference to the classic http://www.amazon.com/Fahrenheit-451-Ray-Bradbury/ dp/0345342968/ [amazon.com]

Re:Wonder what books they burned... (2, Funny)

SEMW (967629) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304687)

No self-respecting nerd/geek should miss this reference to the classic http://www.amazon.com/Fahrenheit-451-Ray-Bradbury/ dp/0345342968/ [amazon.com]
Maybe, but this is the 21st Century; no "self-respecting nerd/geek" would refer to "Fahrenheit 451"! -- Now, "Celsius 233", maybe.

Or, better still, "Kelvin 506".

"T_Planck 3.57*10^-30"?

;-)

Re:Wonder what books they burned... (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304637)

I was guessing the Genius of Barry Manilow.

Probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304171)

It was probably books from their bargain section, which never sold and have been collecting dust in the backfroom for 10+ years.

Re:Probably (0, Troll)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304651)

It was probably books from their bargain section, which never sold and have been collecting dust in the backfroom for 10+ years.
Some books are worth more as kindling:

1. Windows 98 for Dummies
2. My Awakening by David Duke
3. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard
4. The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich
5. anything by Dan Brown
6. Das Kapital by Karl Marx
7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Heck, one could go on for hours...

Re:Probably (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304703)

Heck, one could go on for hours...

Let's make it easy then. Which ones should we keep?

Fahrenheit 451? (2, Insightful)

PoliTech (998983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304175)

"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

excess cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304177)

I have a whole box of kittens at home.
I'll drown them all next week.
Unless of course someone buys them off me first...

Re:excess cats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304307)

do you have any shaved pussy?

Cheap books! (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304179)

Well heck, cheap books! Now if I can only find where to get these I'll be on it like flies on honey covered books :)

Re:Cheap books! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304589)

I live right down the street from Prospero's Books. While perhaps a bit strange, they are legitimate and sincere in their "efforts". For people (such as the poster above) who can't read...they did try to give them away...and found few to no takers. I don't believe it to be a publicity stunt, they are a small, hole in the wall, used book store. Always have been, likely always will.

Much as RIAA/MPAA they have yet to adapt to the media shift (can they?). It's not that we don't read, we read in different formats although I still enjoy a good book as I'm sure do many here.

       

Uhm.... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304185)

So to get people to read books, you have to burn them. I understand now. No wonder I never did well in Reading/English classes.

Burn 'em all, move on to ebooks. (2, Interesting)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304187)

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:Burn 'em all, move on to ebooks. (2, Interesting)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304263)

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.

Re:Burn 'em all, move on to ebooks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304351)

Oh yes, let's all migrate to e-books! Heaven knows that the DRM isn't going to pose itself as an obstacle. Heck when everything's proprietary then you're ensuring more book sales because you simply can not lend the book to another person. Sharing is an act of communism terrorism! Everyone knows that e-books will last forever on their digital storage media. Not like those persnickety paper books which will eventually destroy themselves from the acidic paper in about 50 to 100 years. Plus batteries are so damned cheap nowadays that running out of power just as soon as the detective announces the identity of the murderer will be a thing of the past! Who needs paper books anyway? Why would anyone just want to use their eyes and hands to read a book when the advance copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is available on Motorola phones (free with a 3 year contract, read the fine print).
You, sir (and I use the honorific with great reserve), are an imbecile.

Re:Burn 'em all, move on to ebooks. (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304475)

I can see electronic textbooks and reference books becoming the standard, but as said elsewhere, part of the literary experience is the physical book. Staring at screens, especially tiny cell phone and PDA screens is a strain on the eyes.

But, most importantly, what if I want to read a book that is not mainstream enough to warrant the distribution of an ebook? Like old books - and by old I mean anything published before 1990. Or books that haven't made it to the NYT bestsellers list.

Books are just too simple, cheap, and portable to be replaced easily.

PR stunt (2, Insightful)

Aminion (896851) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:PR stunt (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304289)

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 they can convert. A cafe or a pub, perhaps. (Anyone going there goes for one reason and one reason alone, and it ain't the food.) The idea that he couldn't give the books away is all fine and dandy, but is clear evidence of not trying very hard.

(There are even anonymous book clubs, where you go online and list all the places you've hidden books, and other members can go find them. Apparently, it's not just information but entire books that like to be free.)

Re:PR stunt (2, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304729)

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] [amazon.com] )? Where do you draw the line?

Re:PR stunt (1)

dasimms (644188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304429)

It does sound like a bad PR stunt. I don't think burning a book is the same as not reading it. I mean the book that is burned can not be read by anyone. Even though it is regarding the book by Tom Wolfe, I'm glad the article at least mentions the Bonfire of the Vanities - apparantly without humor - but no mention of Farenheit 451?

Re:PR stunt (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304595)

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 (4, Interesting)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Did he buy his carbon offsets? (5, Funny)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304209)

Did he buy his carbon offsets for the burning of these books?

The Goreacle is not pleased !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304711)

The Goreacle [coxandforkum.com] is not pleased!!!
Repent!!

Buy your Eco-Indulgences.

And, Jon Stewart's take [businessandmedia.org] .

Save them for the reason of CO2 (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304215)

Don't burn them, but where is the link to buy?

Note the paragraph halfway thru the story... (2, Funny)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304225)

...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.

Books are re-usable commodities. (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304243)

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 Amazon.com 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.

Re:Books are re-usable commodities. (5, Funny)

samwichse (1056268) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304635)

Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code


Now there is a book I'd like to read!

Sam

Re:Books are re-usable commodities. (0, Flamebait)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304665)

Unlike you, most people are not snobs about what we read. If we like something, we keep it, rather attempting to get rid of it just because it will never win a Nobel in literature.

Riiiight... (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304247)

"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.

Re:Riiiight... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304385)

Also... not reading a book is as good as burning it? Couldn't someone else read it?

Re:Riiiight... (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304473)

The guy contends that nobody wanted to take these books, but the low demand is not surprising. He mentions "slogging" through tens of thousands of books. What does this mean? That he's taken out any rare or high-demand books - like those commonly on assigned reading lists - that have a hope of re-selling. Trying to sell mass market paperbacks in used condition is next to impossible.

Also... not reading a book is as good as burning it? Couldn't someone else read it?

Yeah, for a buck at this guy's store. Somehow I suspect this is the entire point of this media exercise.

Last time I checked Amazon... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304249)

...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?

Donate Them or Recycle the Paper (4, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Donate Them or Recycle the Paper (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304319)

From the Yahoo news story I read earlier today about this, he was upset due to no one wanting them if he donated.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070528/ap_on_re_us/bo ok_burning [yahoo.com]

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.

That is a part of the second paragraph. It appears that the guy tried to give the books to libraries but the ones he attempted to did not want them. I have not seen any mention of which libraries and how many he contacted, but according to this story he tried.

Dont know about B&N... (3, Interesting)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304353)

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.

Regards.

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.

RTFA (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304359)

It says he tried to donate the books but was unable to find any takers.

Re:Donate Them or Recycle the Paper (2, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304381)

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 them, the fire department put out his bonfire after 50 minutes because he didn't have a permit.

As for the additional CO2 from burning 20,000 books (he didn't actually burn 20,000 at once, but probably just a few hundred -- the article claim he intends to have monthly bonfires until the books are all gone), I doubt it's really going to add all that much CO2 into the atmosphere. What CO2 it does add will be relatively localized, and disperse pretty quickly.

If you want to be concerned about a by-product of the burning, worry about releasing all of the chemicals in paper that are added to make it last longer. Burning a book is quite a bit dirtier than burning some cut firewood, even if they do release the same amount of CO2.

Re:Donate Them or Recycle the Paper (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304495)

Of course it's a publicity stunt.

The CO2 angle is just you being hilarious though, the problem isn't a few thousand pounds of paper burned by the occasional yahoo looking for some attention, it's the millions of pounds released every day satiating every-man's ever growing thirst for energy.

Why doesn't this jerk recycle them? (0, Redundant)

liftphreaker (972707) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304295)

Instead of polluting the environment by burning 20,000 books, why doesn't this jerk call or dump them at a recycling center? Or maybe he's the kind of guy who only drives 10-mpg SUV's. To me it sounds like a publicity stunt.

LibriVox (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304299)

If you don't like the idea of this fellow burning books, why don't you do something about it? Buy some of the books that would otherwise be burned. If they were published before 1923, they are now part of the public domain, and, if you're feeling nice, you could even record yourself reading it and post it to LibriVox [librivox.org] .

Stupidity Alert! (1)

IntellectConnector (1108529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304303)

The saddest part about this is that if "Wayne" had swallowed his anti-Web sentiment for a moment and actually posted an online announcement for the books, they could have gone to someone who would have appreciated them, versus into a pit of flames. Somebody get this guy some Wellbutrin.

Book sales (4, Informative)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Book sales (2, Interesting)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304397)

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.

Regards.

Interesting price (1)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304341)

$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 practice though. The more money that gets extracted from the stupid and the gullible, the harder it is for them to breed, and the better off the world is.

Re:Interesting price (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304525)

You're imagining a world where people's ability to breed is related to the amount of money they have, whereas the world as it exists is one where people get access to extra money for breeding successfully.

Re:Interesting price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304727)

Postage being $3 or $4 a book, of course.

It costs over $2 to mail a paperback book. A very lightweight book can go first class (6oz is 1.98), then Media Mail becomes cheaper at $2.13 for up to a pound. $3 is hardly an unreasonable shipping cost. A $1 book wouldn't be worth selling at anything less.

Uhhhhhh (1)

hoyhoy (320542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304357)

Step 1.) Place books on Amazon
Step 2.) Wait a while
Step 3.) Profit

Re:Uhhhhhh (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304465)

I did that about seven years ago when I was paring down my collection. Made about $300 USD getting rid of a hundred books or so. Recently, I dumped some older technical books into the recycling bin at my apartment complex, and the folks who take the cans and bottles carted them off. Not sure what they did with them. Maybe they needed some doorstoppers.

As to his motives (0, Redundant)

Cesium12 (1065628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304361)

I believe he was getting desperate when no one would buy the thousands of books he needed to clear out of his warehouse, i.e. a publicity stunt.

Books as a tool for eugenics (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304371)

To combat illiteracy, I think we should exclusively confine all life-saving information to printed material. Don't tell kids not to jump in front of speeding vehicles, or poke themselves in the face with sharp knives, or leap off tall buildings... keep that information in books. Give it a few years, and illiteracy will be a think of the past, since all the dumb kids will be dead :)

Re:Books as a tool for eugenics (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304559)

Actually, since most of that information is important before the child is able to read, it would really be the responsibility of the parents to read to them. Of coarse these days that wouldn't happen, do you think parents that can't bother to just hit the power button when their kids watch/play violent movies/games would actually read to their children? So it really wouldn't be about dumb kids being dead, so much as it would be about dumb parents not being able to keep kids alive. Which I don't think would really combat illiteracy all that much, except maybe to impress the importance of reading upon children so that when they grow up they know to read those books to THEIR kids. However, it would sure as hell fix alot of other problems related to the government replacement for parenting that goes on these days.

Woah, wait a minute (1)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304383)

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... >_>

Would it be any different... (1)

dexomn (147950) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304403)

if this guy were wearing rainbow suspenders and burning old copies of King's Quest and Appleworks on 5.25" floppies? Would anyone care?

Re:Would it be any different... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304449)

Well, you *are* posting to /. after all...

Re:Would it be any different... (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304583)

if this guy were wearing rainbow suspenders and burning old copies of King's Quest and Appleworks on 5.25" floppies?

Yes. Imagine what a toxic fire that would be!

Would anyone care?

Hell, yes! They belong in a museum!

Seriously (and sadly), I'd probably love having a copy of KQ1 on 5.25", at least so I'll have a prop for a future "back in my day" story.

Nobody's ever learning from history...?!? (1, Interesting)

ArieKremen (733795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304407)

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."

Heinrich Heine

Books are too expensive... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304409)

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 new books are being pulped each year, the publisher should drop the prices to make books more affordable for the masses.

Re:Books are too expensive... (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304615)

inflation maybe?

Re:Books are too expensive... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304725)

There's a four-inch thick non-fiction book on JFK that's sells for $30 USD, and a half-inch thick non-fiction book on politics also sells for $30 USD. Inflation? I think perhaps not.

In Soviet Russia... (1)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304417)

...books burn YOU!

for shame (1)

kc-guy (1108521) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304443)

Why waste perfectly good kindling? This is KC damnit! Slap some Gate's BBQ sauce the grill and burn up a few steaks while you're at it.

Send'em to Iraq... (4, Informative)

ibn_khaldun (814417) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Neither original, nor even persuasive. (2, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

As a book junkie (1)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304485)

all I can say is, "You sick bastard." Is it just me or is there something inherently wrong about burning books? Just the thought of it makes me cringe.

Sounds cool. (3, Funny)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

A bookstore burns books...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304517)

That doesn't sound like a very good bookstore, does it? Do they get a lot of business?

Very retro-surreal of them. Too bad we don't have any stores that sell witches, they could protest by burning witches!

Which brings me to the question: did they, by any chance, burn any Harry Potter books...?

Doesn't make sense. (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304529)

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 people have read "the classics", and it seems that the classics are less relevant in people's lives. and in most schools they have been cut as a requirement. these days most kids learn about the classics through various made-for-TV movies.

Re:Doesn't make sense. (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304605)

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?

Huh! (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304531)

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.

Fuel for the fire? (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 :-)

Re:Fuel for the fire? (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304641)

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.

:D (1)

retrogameguy (1096733) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304561)

"Booooks? What are booooks?" - Weena

H.G. Wells, The Time machine.

(Well ok the Original Motion Picture)

I'll pay $1 a book to see them burnt... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304599)

...as long as they only burn bibles.

Ok, maybe a little extreme.... (2, Insightful)

Nemus (639101) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304617)

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.

You'd think a bookstore site... (1)

goltrpoat (944891) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304697)

...would at least try to spell authors' names correctly. Brodsky, not "Brodskey."

Just try and burn MY books! (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304701)

My e-Books that is! HA!

Perfect move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304717)

At least they won't expose themselves to some kind of copyright violation.
Burn motherfucker, burn... oooppssss. I did not sing this to the Slashdot audience, I was just thinking of it...

One more time then: burn motherfucker, burn.

Send 'em to Ethiopia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19304745)

I used to teach in Ethiopia; education at the university level is in English. I had brilliant students whose work would have been a lot better had they had access to whatever random book they happened to need for their research. Students taking courses who live on about $20 per month can't afford to buy the course books; instead a group gets together and pools in to make a xerox copy. Pretty much any book of any value would be welcomed, though one would probably have to make arrangements to avoid customs duties.

AFAIK most African universities and libraries are in a similar situation.

Of course sending them to Africa probably wouldn't get you on the front pages or generate any revenue for your store....

Frickin' jerk (1)

GeeBee (104073) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304761)

I heard this guy on a interview this evening. He is a frickin' jerk trying to make a name for himself, his bookstore and his publishing company. So people are reading less. That's the only measure of intellect? Give me a break!

Clever marketing plus he reduces warehouse costs (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304771)

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 the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910--but how many copies of "Harry Potter" can a library reasonably take? I mean, what are they supposed to do? Rent a warehouse and store the books?

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.
In other words, rather than pay the dumping fees to dump the excess stock in a landfill--excess stock no-one wants not because we're illiterate but because really, how many copies of "The Hunt for Red October" is a family supposed to own?--he burns them in an illegal bonfire.

The whole burning the books thing is a huge win/win: it taps into that underlying emotional current we have in America against book burning, while at the same time reduces the amount of money-loosing stock he has to carry without paying dumping charges to dump them at a landfill. And the real win: because he has tapped into that emotional current--

The idea of burning the books horrified Marcia Trayford, who paid $20 Sunday to carry away an armload of tomes on art, education and music.

"I've been trying to adopt as many books as I could," she said.

(Emphasis mine.) By tapping into that current he caused people like Marcia Trayford to "adopt" as many books as she could--books she would have otherwise not bought. Meaning rather than continue to pay for storage fees or landfill disposal charges, he made twenty bucks he wouldn't have made before.

So now the fascinating equation here will be: will he make money by having the occassional book burning--by causing people to "rescue" books from a book burning, even though the books themselves are in such wide circulation that you otherwise couldn't give them away (so the burning isn't classic censorship, but just property disposal)? Or would it be cheaper to just dump the books at a landfill?

My guess? P.T. Barnum was right--and the people coming in to "rescue" books that are not being censored but just disposed of will more than offset the cost to obtain a permit to burn private property for disposal purposes.

I've used to burn book myself (1)

zukinux (1094199) | more than 7 years ago | (#19304811)

and it gave me back money, it was called something like... e - day? no , hmmm it was E-Bay.
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