Someone’s Stealing All the Kerouac Novels

People are stealing books, but not just any books, specifically “paperbacks by a handful of writers, all of them male, 20th-century, and counter-cultural”. 


It’s a problem Dina Mardell, owner of Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, knows well. Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac novels, among others, disappeared so often her staff set up a display of “Most Frequently Stolen Books” in a prominent part of the store. Thieves undeterred, Mardell removed titles likely to be swiped from shelves entirely and instead displayed them behind the sales counter, below the watchful eyes of John Wayne.


The Beat Display at Porter Square Books

Image Via the Boston Globe


Beat writers are as popular now as they have ever been and there could be any number of reasons to explain why these authors are targeted. As new generations of readers discover and accept these anti-materialistic, anti-mainstream authors it’s only natural that they imitate the same ideals, and that includes giving the man the figurative middle finger. 


Except in this case, the men they’re stealing from are actually small, independent businesses that are “affected by that kind of thing”, says Courtney Flynn, manager of Boston’s Trident Booksellers and Cafe.


Featured image via The Red List – Jack Kerouac by John Cohen, 1959.