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    Adventures of a rare book dealer (and former small bookshop owner).

To Catch a Book Thief

Written on May 24, 2007

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The most costly aspect of dealing with a book thief is not so much the value of what is stolen (although this can be considerable), but rather the time it takes to deal with once discovered.

For a couple of weeks I’ve noticed that several books seemed to have gone missing from the shop. Though they were good books (40-60 dollars), I wasn’t too concerned because with so many books, volumes get misplaced all the time – customers move them, I forgot where I put them, etc. But on Monday morning I placed two newly-arrived John Steinbeck firsts on the shelf and proceeded to the restroom. When I returned, both volumes were gone. No one was walking around with them in their hands; they hadn’t sold at the register.


So I begin to place calls to the other shops in the area and sure enough, across town the books have just been sold to another dealer. Good news: I have my books back. Better news: they know the thief, at least his name. Best news: when the crook came back in their shop later that same day they take a picture of him!

Bad news: Cops less than enthusiastic about prosecution. No surprise. But they say they’ll try and locate him (he seems to be semi-homeless). Worse news: No sign of the other books I’m missing. Even worse news: I spend the better part of two days dealing with this – filing the report, gathering the evidence, taking his picture around to the other shops in the area.

Worstest (as my daughter would say) news? Yesterday I lost another book that had been on the shelf less than 24 hours. Groan.

I want to write about last weekend’s Gold Rush Book Fair, and I have a lot to say about the closing of the Gotham that everyone’s buzzing about. But those will have to wait. I’m very behind on work…

HEY! Put that back!

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