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 Prospero's Tempest 
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Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2002 7:00 pm
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Post Prospero's Tempest
Unwanted Books Go Up In Flames

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- Tom Wayne amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero's Books.

His collection ranges from best sellers like Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" and Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," to obscure titles like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But wanting to thin out his collection, he found he couldn't even give away books to libraries or thrift shops, which said they were full.

So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books 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 fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn't have a permit to burn them.

Wayne said next time he will get a permit. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply -- estimated at 20,000 books -- is exhausted.

"After slogging through the tens of thousands of books we've slogged through and to accumulate that many and to have people turn you away when you take them somewhere, it's just kind of a knee-jerk reaction," he said. "And it's a good excuse for fun."

Wayne said he has seen fewer customers in recent years as people more often get their information from television or the Internet. He pointed to a 2002 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, that found that less than half of adult respondents reported reading for pleasure, down from almost 57 percent in 1982.

Kansas City has seen the number of used bookstores decline in recent years and there are few independent bookstores left in town, said Will Leathem, a co-owner of Prospero's Books.

"There are segments of this city where you go to an estate sale and find five TVs and three books," Leathem said.

Dozens of customers took advantage of the Sunday's book-burning, searching through those waiting to go into the fire for last-minute bargains.

Mike Bechtel paid $10 for a stack of books, including an antique collection of children's literature, which he said he'd save for his 4-year-old son.

"I think given the fact it is a protest of people not reading books, it's the best way to do it," Bechtel said. "(Wayne has) made the point that not reading a book is as good as burning it."


Mon May 28, 2007 11:49 am
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Years ago, I paid about three grand for the Britannica Great Books collection. Every significant political, philosophical, religious or literary work since the dawn of recorded history complete and unabridged in a sixty volume set. I could read any of these works online, but it would seem cheap. I can take these books anywhere to read them. I can't do that with my computer. Computers are cold, mechanical devices. Books are a comfort. It's sad to see people turning away from them.


Mon May 28, 2007 11:52 am
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I have had the same problem trying to get rid of all my VHS and albums
No one wanted them
Even for free

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Mon May 28, 2007 6:22 pm
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Books suck. Even the ones with an index don't have a search engine. The bibliography isn't hypertext links either, which means you have to go find another book.

And you have no idea how many times I've reached for my mouse to drag it over a sheet of paper trying to select & copy text, and then had to remind myself "Oh yeah, it's f*cking PAPER, I have to f*cking re-type it."

I think we should bring scrolls back. Parchment rolls right up and you can tuck it into a pantleg, unlike those cumbersome rectangular books.


Tue May 29, 2007 3:07 am
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Yeah, but parchment crumbles and the ink tends to bleed if you get it wet, that's just disastrous!

I love my books


Tue May 29, 2007 2:40 pm
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i just dont see burning books as a way to get people to read more books. in my memory, burning books was how they protested AGAINST them.

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Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:46 pm
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