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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Be Still My Heart

Midtown shop owner protests what he sees as a diminishing support for the printed word.
The Associated Press

The flames rose Sunday as Tom Wayne burned used books at Prospero’s Books at 39th and Bell streets. He hopes to make this a monthly event.
Photo gallery: Book burning at Prospero's Books
In the 10 years Tom Wayne has operated Prospero’s Books, a used bookstore in midtown Kansas City, he has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse.

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 such as 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 were full.

On Sunday, 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 fireblazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn’t have a burning permit.

Wayne said he would get a permit for next time. He said he envisioned monthly bonfires until his supply — estimated at 20,000 books — was exhausted.

He said he had noticed a decline in customers and perceived more people getting information from television or the Internet. He pointed to a 2002 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, which found that less than half of adult respondents reported reading for pleasure, a decline from almost 57 percent in 1982.

Dozens of customers took advantage of the event, scouring the pile of books waiting to go into the fire, looking forlast-minute bargains.

Mike Bechtel paid $10 for a stack of books, including an antique collection of children’s literature.

“I think given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it’s the best way to do it,” Bechtel said.

Did anyone see this on the news?

Next question: Did you nearly have a coronary?

At first, I nearly choked watching this man burn books!! My thoughts went to: is he crazy or what? Did the word "SALE" not enter his mind???!

Or is this man really smart? It did bring to the attention that reading books is on the decline. (very sad, but true) It also gave him national coverage that will possibly send him many offers to take the books off his hands. Hmmm.. I hope he chose books he really expected would never sell before piling them into the trash to burn!!

It makes me wonder why teachers don't promote reading anymore? I mean, they MAKE KIDS READ the standard school books, but you never hear of any promoting the individual reading of books each kid may actually enjoy. I wonder why that is?

Trying to think back to my school days, things really haven't changed. I can remember the "assigned books", (few if any were anything that drew me into them) but, I can't ever remember a teacher giving the students an assignment of reading a book of their choice and then making a report on it. Possibly asking "why" they liked it and "why" they would recommend the book to others....

... and then they blame the fact that kids have no imagination anymore because of television and computers. Duh.. well.. it needs to be promoted at a young age and repeated throughout their youth to give them the opportunity to understand that reading is fun too!

I just hope this was a way to make more people want books... if it's not, then it's sure a sad state of affairs.

I wish I had been there! I woulda made a killing gabbing books for almost nothing!

...'till next time...


Blogger Chris said...

That man is nuts! I'll send him some damn money if he'll send me a pile. Don't burn 'em!

2:25 PM  
Blogger SQT said...


Part of me wants to be on the guy's side for trying to bring attention to the fact that no one is buying these books and the fact that the libraries and thrift stores wouldn't take them.

BUT, there are so many people who would probably have loved to have take them off his hands. My husband's grandmother is a classic example-- elderly, fixed income, loves to read. I can't believe he couldn't have found someone who would have taken them. I bet if he had placed an ad in the paper for free books they would have been gone in a day or two. In the end it seems like he gets off on the spectacle.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Carl V. said...

That's my current home town...I'm so proud...not!

11:41 PM  
Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

How about donating them to schools and libraries in poorer parts of the US...there must be that....

I think it was a publicity stunt.

I get that Americans are slowing down on the reading front...reality tv does that to your brain..but I somehow dont' think his heart was in the right place.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Who knows maybe the guy did this as a publicity stunt to get people to buy some of the books.

I only had one teacher who thought of getting kids to read books. She was my second grade teacher. I had brought a toy car to school one day and she took it saying that I would get it back at the end of the school year. Instead Mrs. Haynes gave me a book called "There is no such thing as a dragon". And I still have that book today.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Kiyotoe said...

lol. You would have made what we call....a "come-up". 20 books for free, give or take a singed finger or two.

I was just telling the Counselor the other day about something we did in my junior high school called "Battle of the Books" where each english class had 2 teams and the object was to read as many books on the slected list every month and then at the end of the month every team (about 8) went on stage and answered questions about the books until a winner was declared.

my team won 4 out of the 6 months we played. I'll never forget some of those books i read for that silly game.

Somebody needs to bring back Battle of the Books, these kids need it.

6:28 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Chris: Yeah no kidding! me too!

SQT: he probably was turned down by one or two places and then the brainstorm hit... advertising (via new) will bring the customers..and I bet it works.

Carl: hmmm on down and grab up some cheap books!!!

Crunchy: myself..I think he figured out a way to make some bucks.

Charles: wow you still have the book?? That's a keeper for sure!!! You should do a post about it.

Kiyotoe: Ohhh, now that's a good idea!! The way things seem to be though, finding enough kids to make 2 teams might even be hard to accomplish... pretty sad.

6:36 PM  
Blogger SQT said...

I saw a thing on the news (who knows if it was accurate or not) saying that Americans are actually buying more books than ever. Big chains like Barnes & Noble aren't staying in business because of their coffee shops.

I love my local used book store. The lady that ownes it just moved to a bigger location because she is doing so much business. Any books she can't sell she donates to the local animal shelter. The shelter sells the books for a quarter or fifty cents to raise additional funds so people donate to them all the time.

There are so many options other than burning these books. Like I said before, he likes the attention.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

What a stupid protest method! That's a sacrilege!

10:20 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think it is a stunt and nothing more.

I think a bigger threat to his business is Amazon, discounters, and Barnes & Nobles/Books a million. I hope he doesn't start burning THEM down too!

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9:36 AM  

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