KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero's Books.
His collection ranges from best sellers, such as Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" and Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," to obscure titles, like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn't even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full.
So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word.
"This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.
The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn't have a permit for burning.
Wayne said next time he will get a permit. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply — estimated at 20,000 books — is exhausted.
"After slogging through the tens of thousands of books we've slogged through, and to accumulate that many and to have people turn you away when you take them somewhere, it's just kind of a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "And it's a good excuse for fun."
Wayne said he has seen fewer customers in recent years as people more often get their information from television or the Internet. He pointed to a 2002 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, that found that less than half of adult respondents reported reading for pleasure, down from almost 57 percent in 1982.
Kansas City has seen the number of used bookstores decline in recent years, and there are few independent bookstores left in town, said Will Leathem, a co-owner of Prospero's Books.
"There are segments of this city where you go to an estate sale and find five TVs and three books," Leathem said.
The idea of burning the books horrified Marcia Trayford, who paid $20 Sunday to carry away an armload of tomes on art, education and music.
"I've been trying to adopt as many books as I could," she said.
Dozens of other people took advantage of the book-burning, searching through the books waiting to go into the flames for last-minute bargains.
Mike Bechtel paid $10 for a stack of books, including an antique collection of children's literature, which he said he'd save for his 4-year-old son.
"I think, given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it's the best way to do it," Bechtel said. "(Wayne has) made the point that not reading a book is as good as burning it."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070528/ap_on_re_us/book_burningThis message has been edited. Last edited by: LordShen,
Well it's certainly proving his point.
Yes, but I don't care what his reasons were, book-burning is a sin!
Burning in an instant blaze, or rotting away. Pillar of Fire or the coffin cold? I guess both fates sting, one faster and with swifter contention.
Thanks for posting this and sparing me the pain of doing so. Worse than "Season of Disbelief"--another story of a grievous sin being committed for "good" reasons.
I was appalled, as well, my friends. And still am. But my curiosity led me to check out the website for this man's bookstore. You can now 'save' a book for $1USD each plus postage. But there are three quotes he has posted on the site on the matter:
"There are worse crimes than burning books, one is not reading them." ~ Joseph Brodskey
"The individual who won’t read has nothing over the individual who cannot read." ~ Mark Twain
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
— Ray Bradbury
People are apparently buying the books to save them, which was my intention. But there's also people buying them, sight unseen, to donate to local prisons, schools, libraries or other such places that is outside the reach of this small bookstore owner. I think it'd also be nice to purchase them and send them off to U.S. troops.
I'm still all aghast at the thought of burning a single book. I've got an essay on my site covering the whole thing and how it's an act of intellectual terrorism, a forceful way to instill fear and convince people NOT to read.
This, however, is a new take on things for me. Part of me totally agrees, yet I would NEVER burn a book nor deem any cause book-burning-worthy.
Now with the 'chance' to 'save' these books, it all comes off way too much as commercialism stunt practices.
Am I wrong here?
Well, that's fine for humans, but books have a much longer lifespan!
I prefer the books' survival as well, I'm just trying to think in the crazed bookowner's perspective.
By the way, doug, do you use any messenger programs?
Tom Wayne Beatty.
Thanks for posting the guy's site, Lord Shen. I took a looky, but the save-a-book deal is completely blind! Can you imagine? Does that mean he expects these tomes to be unloveable? I just have to wonder.
Aye: With my gmail I can instant thingy. I rarely use it tho - prefer to talk on the phone.
Still, you should use the gtalk, which is a better version of the gmail instant thingy. It's here: http://www.google.com/talk/
This reminds me, Rocket, are you still doing the (I can't remember what it's called) thing of leaving books at bus stops and phone booths?
Thingy is a good word.
So is 'thunk'!
Prospero's Books = http://www.prosperosbookstore.com/
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