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Book Burning in Protest

A Kansas City Missouri used bookseller recently burned a large part ofhis collection in protest. "This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," he said before setting fire to his pile of books. The bookseller had recently tried … Read More

By / May 29, 2007
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

A Kansas City Missouri used bookseller recently burned a large part ofhis collection in protest. "This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," he said before setting fire to his pile of books. The bookseller had recently tried to thin out his collection by trying to donate approximately 20,000 books to libraries and other bookstores, all of which were too full to accept them. He began burning his books in protest of "society's diminishing support for the printed word."

This reminds me of my last visit to [gasp!] Borders Books in downtown Boston where I waded through rows of candles and gift cards, tchotchkes and CDs and the few books sanctioned by Oprah or her ilk. It was a depressing experience, not only because it couldn't find my own book, but because it couldn't find five or six of the other books I was in search of either.

What is particularly depressing is that it is getting harder and harder to find and discover independent voices and literature, with book review pages being gutted all over the country and small publishers being gobbled up by conglomerations.

So, it's a bit ironic, I think, that the cover of my new novel, which is being published this fall by a small Canadian literary publisher, features a book burning on the cover. It is actually not a stock image, but the fruits of my publisher dashing out into the darkness of the fields around his Ontario farmhouse with a can of gasoline and setting fire to books until he found the right image. A bit strange that a Jew is sanctioning book burning, but in the case of my book, it is the right metaphor and the perfect image.

As my own reaction to societies diminishing support of the printed word I've teamed up with independent bookseller Back Pages Books outside of Boston to launch the 1001 Book Project, an attempt to sell out the entire modest print run before publication in September. We are hoping to create a sort of grassroots movement where readers become the taste makers, passing the book on to friends and family, becoming a sort of a Johnny Appleseed of good literature. We have already sold a hundred books in the first eight days, and hope your support we will reach 1001 soon.

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