The Most Stolen Books
Inside the Big Bookseller
In preparation for the upcoming (and costly!) holiday season, I recently picked up a part-time gig at Indigo. After all, I figured, if I'm going to venture back into retail, where I'd spent most of my summers as a teen, I may as well surround myself with what I love most—books!
I've learned a few interesting things about big booksellers during my time at Indigo. One of the most interesting things I've learned is which books are stolen most often. Certain authors can't be found in the open shelves at the Eaton Centre’s Indigo. For instance, head over to the “General Fiction – P” section to pick up a copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, and instead you’ll find a small sign directing you to “please ask for assistance.”
Aside from Palahniuk, here are three of Indigo’s most stolen authors:
Murakami is a contemporary Japanese author whose work is highly acclaimed. His writing has something of a cult following, with allusions to traditional Japanese literature, classical music, and Eastern religion. My guess is that many dejected starving artists relate to Murakami, who didn’t begin to write fiction until the age of 30.
Vonnegut (interestingly, said to be one of Murakami’s influences) was an American twentieth-century author whose works also have somewhat of a cult following. A staple in many Western English literature university classes, Vonnegut wrote fantastical stories that often alluded back to the unequal distribution of wealth in the real world. This anti-establishment sentiment makes his books prime candidates for shoppers looking for a five-finger discount.
Bukowski, a German-born writer who spent his teen years suffering in grimy Los Angeles, has been described as a “laureate of American lowlife.” His writing revolves around American poverty, alcoholism, and the working class. His literary alter-ego, Henry Chinaski—a boozing, gambling, misogynistic misanthrope—is the protagonist of many of his works. Given Bukowski’s “transgressive” style of writing, and his legacy as a sort of bottom-dog anti-hero, it’s perhaps unsurprising that his admirers might resent having to dish out the thirty-some dollars for his collected works.
The King of Shoplift Lit
Of the three, Bukowski is by far, it would seem, the reigning King of “Shoplift Lit”—at least when it comes to big booksellers like Indigo.
However, if you're a Bukowski fan, don't worry—you don't have to steal one of his books, because we're giving one away! Check out our Twitter page on December 7 to enter to win.
In case you don’t believe me, here’s pick I took myself at Bay/Bloor Indigo:
For more about book shop thievery, check out this interesting little Wikipedia page on the topic.