There’s a good mystery in your local bookstore. Someone is stealing books by beatnik authors, the Boston Globe reports.
It’s not a new phenomenon and it doesn’t appear to be limited to one section of the country. It’s been happening for years at bookstores all around the country.
“Anything by Charles Bukowski has to be nailed down,” the New York Times said twenty years ago. It’s still the case.
It’s a little comforting, we admit, that the beat generation never goes out of style, but it’s costing independent bookstores a fortune.
In a Cambridge bookstore, anything by Bukowski and Jack Kerouac were disappearing so quickly, that the owner moved everything to a display — “most often stolen books” — nearer to the register. They still got stolen, the Globe says.
There are a few prevailing theories to explain the book-swiping. People are either planning to resell the titles, knowing they’re used at high schools and colleges; or they’d rather spend $12 on beer than on a book for class.
It could also be that as new generations of youngsters discover these authors, so too do they channel them, disregarding the mainstream and giving “the man” the metaphorical middle finger.
“These beatnik authors still get stolen,” said Courtney Flynn, manager of the Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street. “It’s definitely been the case for a very long time.”
The quantities aren’t vast, maybe a book or two at a time, spread out, but any theft can hurt a retail shop’s bottom dollar. “Little do they know they’re stealing from small, independent businesses that are affected by that kind of thing,” Flynn said.
At Porter Square Books, works by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald have also been targets.
Curiously, libraries don’t seem to have the problem with the beat authors.
A 2014 survey showed that in libraries, the most often stolen book is the Guiness Book of Records.
And the Bible.