In my eight years working at an independent bookstore, I lost count of how many shoplifters I chased through the streets of Seattle while shouting "Drop the book!" I chased them down crowded pedestrian plazas in the afternoon, I chased them through alleys at night, I even chased one into a train tunnel. I chased a book thief to the waterfront, where he shouted, "Here are your fucking books!" and threw a half-dozen paperbacks, including Bomb the Suburbs and A People's History of the United States, into Puget Sound, preferring to watch them slowly sink into the muck rather than hand them back to the bookseller they were stolen from. He had that ferocious, orgasmic gleam in his eye of somebody who was living in the climax of his own movie: I suppose he felt like he was liberating them somehow.Another day he apprehended a would-be thief with a "shopping list" of books to nick :
Charles Bukowski, Jim Thompson, Philip K Dick, William S Burroughs and "any graphic novel" ... pretty much the authoritative top five, New York Times best-seller list of stolen books.Terry Practchett emerges as the UK's most stolen author says Hooper, while in Australia the top three most stolen books apparently haven't changed in decades. (It's a little unsettling that most of the book-thieves are clearly planning a holiday in this part of the world!)
But according to Winson Tan in the Age, it's (ironically!) true-crime fiction that most frequently walks out the door in Melbourne, followed by self-help titles.
Wonder what the most stolen titles are here in Malaysia? Anyone with inside info care to tell us?
Although it would be very hard to sneak books out of our local stores like Kinokuniya and MPH with their hi-tech tagging devices and security guards, but even if your bookshop can't afford those, you could try this medieval remedy, an anti-theft charm written into the book to make sure it isn't stolen:
Steal not this book, my worthy friend
For fear the gallows will be your end;
Up the ladder, and down the rope,
There you'll hang until you choke;
Then I'll come along and say -
"Where's that book you stole away?