Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
Tom Chaney: Crime and Punishment by the Quire
Of Writers And Their Books: Crime and Punishment by the Quire. Tom says Bartlett reflects on the sort of affection for books which can lead to a life of biblio-crime. This column first appeared 10 January 2010.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: The Developing Image of God
By Tom Chaney
Crime and Punishment by the Quire
Once in a great while I pick up a book from the true crime shelf here in the Bookstore. I have a certain fascination with the lives of those whose chief claim to fame is theft or murder. The fascination generally runs out long before the book is done.
However, I had a gift last birthday of a story of true crime perpetrated on booksellers. Allison Hoover Bartlett has written a story of book stealing that set me to thinking some. The book is The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession [Riverhead Books, 2009].
Many booksellers specialize in rare books. Many others of us wish we could but lack the experience, knowledge, where-with-all so to do. Nonetheless we all are on the lookout for that valuable tome buried in a box of so-so volumes which may be cheaply bought.
John Gilkey steals books -- rare, expensive titles from booksellers. Ken Sanders is a bookseller who is determined to run Gilkey to ground. Bartlett is a free-lance writer who tells the story of both, and becomes a little too much involved with the thief to convince us of her objectivity.
Gilkey is in and out of jail during Bartlett's gathering of her tale. Bartlett seems to risk becoming an accomplice in her push for understanding the mind of the thief.
Gilkey was able to steal some $100,000 worth of rare books in a period of six or so years using stolen credit card information, cold checks and a good deal of old fashioned lying. He seemed to have been enamored with the having of collectable books. Unlike the normal thief who steals for profit, Gilkey did not deal with fences or attempt to sell the fruit of his crime except when in dire need of funds to defend himself from the charges against him.
Gilkey worked over a Christmas holiday at an upscale department store from which he palmed credit card numbers and information from wealthy customers. He then would buy books by phone, using the stolen information.
Sanders is a book dealer who sets out to catch book thieves. He becomes a security specialist for the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA). He got his start in bookselling in 1975 when he and some friends took over a hippie head shop in Salt Lake City called the Cosmic Aeroplane. They relocated the shop to a larger building and began having experience with shoplifting.
In 1996 Sanders founded Ken Sanders Rare Books. Bartlett observes that Sanders was not tolerant of those who wished to leave without paying. "He has chased these guys down streets and alleys and parking lots. He has taken them to court. He has scared them half to death. He will do whatever possible to get his books back and prevent thieves from ever, ever thinking of stealing another book."
Sanders set up an e-mail system to alert booksellers to theft.
Bartlett reflects on the sort of affection for books which can lead to a life of biblio-crime. Handling books from her childhood she remembers "where they have been, who else has read them. It's like they have more than one story to tell." Thus physical artifacts carry "memory and meaning." This can be the foundation for the compulsion to steal books. "For this reason, I am sure that hardbound books will survive, even long after e-books have become popular."
The fascination of the bibliophile for the physical properties of the books they collect is different from the affection a usual reader has for books. On one end of the continuum -- opposite that of the collector -- is the fondness for the ideas, for the words, for the stories within the books. In fact, the collector of rare books may read a paperback or an e-book edition of the text, saving the collectable book for the locked shelf.
Bartlett's book is engaging -- she tells an interesting tale. But I fear she loses the necessary distance from Gilkey. She never involves herself and her reader in a similar fashion with Sanders.
In an epigram to the book she uses an anathema in a medieval manuscript from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona -- an epigram which I am tempted to use in our shop.
"For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not,So there!
Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney - firstname.lastname@example.org>
This story was posted on 2015-01-11 04:19:11
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.
More articles from topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books:
Tom Chaney: The Ledger of a Country Store
Tom Chaney: Shadows on the Wall of The Cave
Tom Chaney: Western Trails and Ralph Compton
Tom Chaney: Stephen Bishop at Mammoth Cave
Tom Chaney: Organic Tobacco or Hosannas to the Herb Divine
Tom Chaney: Welcome to Catfish Bend
Tom Chaney: Papal High Jinks
Tom Chaney: Dan Brown and the screenplay as novel
Tom Chaney: Nancy Drew at 75
Tom Chaney: We Rob Banks
View even more articles in topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books
Click for Info
Bank of Columbia
If You're Thinking of Selling,
Let Us Do the Yelling
Principal Broker & Auctioneer
Burton Real Estate
& Auction Service
Call Us For Appraisals
Click for Listings
On This Site
or Click Here
The Best of
Local Stories of
The Greatest Generation
Order Book or e-Book
See who's celebrating
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Special Events List
ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.