June 21, 2018

Books: The fact that you love them doesn’t mean you should steal them


Dear Polk County book thief,

So, it seems you’ve been caught, and perhaps it was only a matter of time. Stealing books is no easy feat. What surprises me the most is that you managed to both procure them from a single source, a Rome physician, and carry them away, without any reported help from an accomplice. Books are heavy. Yet there you go, hundreds of books stolen; I assume you had a dolly or some means of transporting the books to your escape vehicle of choice? Under cover of night?

The Floyd County Jail has released some further details of your arrest: Your name, Christopher Scott Haynes; your age, thirty-eight; your home address; the warrant for your arrest, which lists your crime as a felony, claims you were in possession of 300 books. If that wasn’t enough, it appears you sold the volumes to a local second-hand bookstore, Dogwood Books, for a reported $2,414. By any token, that’s quite a bit of coin. The amount gets my mind racing: What books did you manage to steal? First editions? Maybe some were typical fare—reprints, paperbacks—but you don’t successfully unload 300 books for two thousand dollars if there aren’t prized items mixed in the lot.

Oh, and poor Dogwood — it’s tough enough keeping an indie bookstore afloat. The owner probably thought nothing of the sale. It helped that you sold them off in batches, three visits over two months. Maybe the owner figured you were ready to move on or trim down your library. People sell off their collections all the time; used bookstores thrive on the cycle. It’s horrible to think of what must have gone through the owner’s head when they found out they had purchased stolen property.

Better that you stay in jail. Details of this crime would make any book lover frown.

Word of advice: If you borrow a book while there, maybe don’t steal it. Swiping books can’t end well.

A reader

Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.