Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Books Burn to Protest Decline in Reading - So You Say You Want A Revolution?

Man, this is fucking rad! Way to go guys! I'm crying and laughing and impressed and wishing I had a list of everything you're burning right now. Would that I could come to Kansas City to book scout.

So what do we need here now to fuel the opposite flame this one merely draws attention to? The dwindling candle of reading minds in our "great" nation. Incite celebrities and athletes to write books for children and young adults which encourage youth to read? Just finished reading Ecotopia, so of course my thoughts are lofty. But I imagine a sustainable, fully-greened publishing and textbook industry supported by a network of independent bookstores paired with local online dealers. I imagine local communities taking over Barnes and Nobles and Borders locations nationwide and localizing them, staffing them, changing the tones of them to fit the precise spot they are located. I imagine a world where we remember that reading is still looking, just with a different form of thought attached, that a picture is not worth a thousand words and sometimes, the exact opposite is true.

Dear Book Lovers;
There are worse crimes than burning books, one is not reading them. ~ Joseph Brodskey

The individual who won’t read has nothing over the individual who cannot read. ~ Mark Twain

For ten years Prospero’s Books has been in the front lines of the literary arts, both as a bookseller ( and as a publisher ( As a used bookseller, we have put our money where our hearts are – surrendering our hours and our revenues to sharing the world of books and, more importantly, the ideas they contain with anyone who would listen.

During these ten years we have seen reading decline dramatically. The National endowment of for Arts study on literary literacy in America which painfully highlighted the rapid decline of reading in America. In our own community, we’ve watched as bookstore after bookstore has folded.

Yesterday, we performed an act of art – a wakeup call to all who value books and ideas. Over the last 10 years, Prospero’s Books has 20,000 books we’ve collected that people simply will not read. We receive hundreds more each week.

At Prospero’s we fundamentally believe that the literary arts are not dead. We believe that there is still much about the human condition and our time still needing to be said. In so saying, we challenge you to get involved in two ways:
1. email these stories to your friends
2. call your local TV, radio, newspaper, blogs, etc. and tell them what is going on
3. For $1 a book (+ postage), you can save these books from the flame. We will not take these $s as profit, but will use them to publish new books.

Many of you have great ideas regarding what can be done with these books that’s better than burning them – we agree with you, and encourage YOU to get involved in sharing the gift of literature. For $1 a book + postage, you can support your local school, prison, etc.

If we are going to again place a spotlight on the importance of books and reading, we need Your help! This is bigger than two bookstore owners in Kansas City.

My greatest fear is that as a culture, we may be beyond saving the books.
We appreciate that you have joined what we hope will become a national dialogue about the importance of books. Thank you.
Sincere Regards,
Prospero’s Bookstore
Will Leathem
Tom Wayne

More news coverage:

Fox News' Take [see evil corporation]

The Hindu

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