Books are Burning
The Post-Dispatch reports that a used book store owner in Kansas City, unable to unload his thousands of warehoused books, has taken to burning them:
Ranging 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 and a textbook on beginning Polish, the books won’t sell. Wayne said even local libraries and thrift stores have told him they’re full.
Last week, Wayne began putting them to the torch, tossing scores of books into a burning cauldron to protest 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 burning permit.
Wayne said he will get a permit for next time. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply estimated at 20,000 books is exhausted.
Now, I was raised in a family in which books were practically sacred. Whenever my dad lent a book to someone, he’d be sure to quip: "If there’s a fire, rescue the book first. Then go back for your family." He’s also fond of his T-shirt with the Erasmus quote: "When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food." When I moved here to the St. Louis area in April, I brought more books with me than anything else, no matter how you measure it weight, volume, mass, um … surface area. My car was loaded down with dead trees.
So this story cuts me to the core. This guy owns the books, so he can do with them what he wants, as far as I’m concerned, but I wish I could rescue them all. Although I’ve never had a pet, I think this must be what animal-lovers feel when they visit the pound and see all the animals waiting to be put down wishing they could take them all home, where they’d be safe.
I think I need to buy more shelves.