Monday, June 04, 2007
Thoughts on the Book Pyro
Talk about an independent bookstore going up in flames. Tom Wayne just had his 15 minutes of Warholian fame. How long he will live in infamy is another story.
You see Tom Wayne has decided to burn all the books he couldn't sell and hide his actions under the umbrella of protest.
He was protesting "what he sees as society’s diminishing support for the printed word." He called it an "act of art."
The burning of books no matter what the motivation can never be a positive. It is ultimately, a selfish act of destruction and to claim that nobody wanted them as a requisite to the burning borders on delusional.
B.N. Guffey over at the Biblio-Technician exposes the absurdity of Wayne's claim that "even local libraries and thrift stores have told him they were full." Apparently, he never even contacted the Kansas City Public Library.
If he was truly concerned about finding homes for the books his energy could of went to mobilizing supporters to get the books to any number of libraries on the Gulf Coast still reeling from Katrina or how about the Kiowa County Public Library in nearby Kansas that was completely obliterated by a recent tornado?
Isn't Wayne really talking about the diminishing support of the independent bookseller?
As I bookseller with an open bookshop in a large American city I understand Tom Wayne's predicament but he is completely misdirected and unclear of what he is protesting.
What he is reacting to and trying to protest is the diminishing support for the independent bookshop in our society and the negative consequences online bookselling has had on the trade. This has nothing to do diminishing support for the printed word, there are more books being sold and published than ever before.
When he says that his act of book burning is a "funeral pyre for thought in America today" he means that the burning is a funeral pyre for all the books that are no longer worth anything due to the massive changes the book trade has undergone in the last 10 years.
There are a lot of books you just can't sell anymore but burning them will never get you anywhere.
Kansas City Star article