I have nothing against Prospero’s Books. It’s an independent bookstore along the hip 39th Street corridor in Kansas City, Missouri. They go out of their way to support local authors and poets and help the community. A good friend of mine worked there part-time for a year or so. I’ve even bought books from them. I like them and what they do. Except when I read this article in this Monday’s Kansas City Star.
The owner of Prospero’s, Tom Wayne, apparently has a warehouse full of used books that, according to him, will not sell. So he’s doing what any reasonable person who loves books would do: he’s burning them. In a feeble, misguided attempt to raise awareness of the decline of the printed word – apparently the kids are more apt to get their information from that pesky internet – Wayne started burning his backlog in an oversized Weber grill in front of his store the other day until the city shut him down for not having a permit for it.
I understand perfectly what he’s trying to do: burning some of the books in a high profile manner – I’m sure he called the Star and there was a reporter and a photographer on site before he lit his first match – will raise the ire of booklovers around the area, and offers to buy his backlog will flood in, and Wayne will make his money. But burning books, the tool of censors and nutjobs like Fred Phelps, is cheap and manipulative and dumb.
Hey, Wayne, how about donating those books to a local school or a homeless shelter or a nursing home or an ESL program? Oh yeah, you wouldn’t get your name in the paper. I’m taking my indie bookstore money elsewhere, and I hope others do the same.
(Hat tip to the mighty TKC, who said what I said better, more snarkily, and in far fewer words.)