Monday, May 28, 2007

Sadly, I'm not in Kansas (City) anymore

For the first, and possibly the last time in my life, I wish I was in Kansas City so I could rescue these books. It's strange that this bookstore owner would set fire to books no one wants as a form of protest. When I lived in Iran in the 80s, I literally hunted books the way most kids my age were hunting for contraband American movies and music. I learned Farsi for the express reason of expanding my reading possibilities (oh, and not getting the life beat out of me for failing in school).

The strange thing is, I just read an article in the NY Times, about how literary reading has been going down in Iran, because the publishing industry is constantly under attack of new rules and restrictions. Sadly now, as when I was living there, one of the few and most popular books in regular supply are Danielle Steel novels (the first time I heard of Danielle Steel was in Iran, when a bookstore owner recommended her books as "very popular with young ladies"). It confused me then; and it confuses the hell out of me now. Of course, traditional Iranian poetry and literature is abundant and rich--but it is not enough. Unfortunately, from what I have seen, the younger generation doesn't read traditional literature because it's familiar and sometimes too rich. It seems there aren't many alternatives: Rumi and friends, or Ms. Steel.

So it seems once again there is an abundance of imbalance. Too many unwanted books in KC (for lack of interest) and too much lack of interest in Iran for dearth of books. Ideally, I'd like to go to KC, pack up the 20,000 unwanted books and give them a good home--my home. Or maybe if I'm very altruistic, a local prison. Hell, why not ship them to New Orleans and donate them to a library that was washed away there?

How bad can a trip to Kansas City be?


TK said...

Wow. That's really depressing. But... I'm not so sure that his "statement" is really the right tactic. I mean, wouldn't society be better served by him donating them to a library, or school, or, hell, shipping them overseas? I can appreciate a political statement, but this... this strikes me as a shameful waste.

Not to mention as an avid book collector, it just makes me sad. Hell, I'd have taken them off his hands.

girl with curious hair said...

I emailed him with exactly what I suggested here--I even offered to contribute to the shipping/handling costs of getting the books to someone who can use them. I have not reached the status of a book collector yet--I aspire to it--but it just breaks my heart. Here is the bookstore's website, you can buy books for a dollar and shipping fees:

Anonymous said...

Hello, my very first post. I work in a popular bookstore and once a month we ship old/out of date/ damaged books back to the distributers. I must admit that destroying some of the utter crap thats out there (non returnable stock) can be relaxing. But while ripping the covers off the useless stock of danielle steele books or really cheesy romance novels can be enjoyable I always feel like it is a terrible waste (of everything but especially trees, oh how I wish we could recycle). I also regret that these items were printed rather than literature or something of depth. oh well.

girl with curious hair said...

Thanks for commenting. I don't understand why books are destroyed like that. Although, I wouldn't exactly wish Danielle Steele and her ilk on anyone, but still there has to be a better way of handling the rejects. So much waste!

Anonymous said...

I know there is a lot of waste. The destroying has to do with supply and demand as they print far more books than they ever intend to sell, though in our immediate consumer culture having to do print in demand publications is equally impractical. (though things are starting to change with electronic books). Anyway, thanks for your blog, its interesting and very well written.

by the way, a trip to kansas. shudder. very bad.