When it comes to bookstore thievery, the beat goes on

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.

  • >>And the Bible.<<

    Heck, those are free at most motels…

    • Rob

      Maybe the stolen ones were Gutenbergs…

    • jon

      Free? I think not, they are included in the cost of the hotel room, like the soap or the toilet paper.

      If you want a “free” one you can go to a church and most of them just leave them sitting in the backs of the benches, though even that might cost you an hour of your time….

      • Kassie

        They aren’t included in the price of the hotel. They are provided free from Christian Organizations, mostly the Gideons. I think they like them to be taken.

  • RBHolb

    Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night
    Who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high walked through bookstores boosting paperbacks