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Most Stolen Books

Written by Chris Routledge, 4th March 2008

We're used to seeing lists of bestsellers, lists of most borrowed, most read by priests who ride motorbikes (ok, I made that last one up), but here's the low-down on a different kind of book economy: most stolen. This strikes me as an obvious and overlooked measure of a book or writer's importance. When you think about it, stealability is how the value of things such as cars, jewelry, iPods and bicycles is measured. In the case of books though, the list of 'most stolen' is far from obvious. As Paul Constant reports in Seattle's The Stranger:

There's an underground economy of boosted books. These values are commonly understood and roundly agreed upon through word of mouth, and the values always seem to be true. Once, a scruffy, large man approached me, holding a folded-up piece of paper. "Do you have any Buck?" He paused and looked at the piece of paper. "Any books by Buckorsick?" I suspected that he meant Bukowski, but I played dumb, and asked to see the piece of paper he was holding. It was written in crisp handwriting that clearly didn't belong to him, and it read:

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