03 September 2007

More Book Burning at Prospero's Books

I blogged both here and elsewhere about the independant bookstore Prospero's Books in Kansas City, Mo. needing to get rid of books, and the signs of protest they were staging for the abandonment of thought in the US. Well, it looks like Tom Wayne, owner, is at it again, staging another book burning. I couldn't get the embed function to work for the current 10 second of coverage that KCTV posted, so here's the footage from the first book burning in May:

Did you see the title of that book burning? It was One Nation Under Television. How quaint. Here's the problem: I get the concept that your store is not doing well, and that you are trying to get rid of books. I understand your disgust that people won't take books for free (again, shocking, right? He can ship them to me, and I'll take them off his hands!) But the problem is, the man is mixing his messages. You can't whine about people not willing to take free books, and then when people offer to take them, say you want payment. Uh, what? Yeah. That's what Mr. Wayne is doing. Sure it would be great for him to get money for those books, but then what you need to do is to SELL THEM. Don't say you're trying to give them away (which, in itself, implies "free"), and then complain because people won't buy them.

Here's a clue: If they weren't buying them while they were sitting in your warehouse, then what makes you think they're going to buy them now? Especially after you just proved yourself an Indian Giver (wow, I now need to look up the origins of that phrase. I didn't even like typing it.). And for the love of all that is holy, do NOT burn books!! I watched that footage and actually had to calm my stomach! What's you're mentality? "Okay, if you don't buy this book I'm going to burn it!" That... You.... ~*seethe*~ You can't do that!

What is that proving? Yes, yes, you're lighting the funeral pyre for thought in America. You've said that already. But you said that in May of 07, and now it's September and you're doing it again. Same motive. To me that sounds like a publicity stunt. And publicity stunts at the expense of people who actually do read, makes them not like you, your transparent behavior and motivation to make money, or your store. I buy books. I buy a lot of books. I also have books sent to me for review, and I appreciate every last one that finds its way into my home. I had, at one point, considered contacting your store to purchase books--you know, back when I thought your publicity stunt was a genuinely motivated protest against the rampant anti-intellectualism in this country. But now? Now I'll go to the independant bookstores here in Pittsburgh, and Half Priced Books down the street. Thanks for saving me the time and effort.

~D.M. Papuga


dk_jazz said...

Hi, I agree with your statements. I think it's pretty dumb to burn the books myself. How about Christmas time, giving the books away to kids and adults to encourage reading. Have some type of event at the bookstore with doughnuts and coffee and offer to give the books away for Christmas. It would create a feeling of goodwill and bring positive publicity to the store! You mean to tell me that you couldn't put the books on ebay and sell them for shipping and handling only? He could inflate the shipping by a dollar each book if he wanted to just to make something on them instead of making himself look like an idiot! He's definitely not the poster child for "Reading Making You Smarter!" I'm starting to think that he's NOT smarter than a 5th grader!! I actually hated to see the books burning! At the college I attend, they were giving some books away and just set them out for anyone to take. They are all editions that are no longer used but the information is still good. I grabbed 3 books on some subjects that I wanted to learn about for myself. There was a monstrous stack of books lying around on day 1. Day 2, all of the books were gone! Need I say more?!! Now I'm mad that I didn't get a couple of other books that I saw, but the point is, someone will always take something for free; if it truly is for free!!


D.M. Papuga said...


I think you've pointed out some very good options for Mr. Wayne that don't include burning books! Like you, I started truly building my personal library through the various book vendors who would set up tables in the student unions of the colleges I attended. Most of the books were used (some were antique, and I purchased a real find for only $1.25!), all of the books were discounted to the price of a soda or two, and many of them were free. Glad I'm not the only one raiding those bins!

Thanks for the comment!