Once upon a time, Jack the Ripper terrorized the streets of London. Today, the infamous “Book Ripper” is terrorizing the shelves and libraries of Herne Bay bookshops in the UK.
The Guardian reports that a literary vandal has been consistently ripping pages in half in hundreds of books throughout second hand shops and libraries, and then returning them to their shelves.
Demelza charity executive Ryan Campbell reported that around a hundred books have been found with pages torn in half horizontally since April. Herne Bay Library reported similarly damaged books for over six months. Shops have found that their true crime book sections have been particularly vandalized. The elusive Book Ripper has quite the calling card.
Demelza store manager Nick Rogers | Image via KentOnline
Campbell elaborated that the damage extends beyond just regular customer sales for the charity, “Of course people donate these books towards the care of children with terminal illness so it’s almost like taking the collection box.”
Campbell also explained that the damage has increased over the last few weeks to “quite a few” copies a week. While signs have been put up throughout the town, and the police have been notified, there are still no leads.
Hold your books close, friends. Do not take them for granted. I know that if I woke up to find my precious comic book collection or my vintage copy Of Mice and Men ripped in half, I would cry.
Everyone needs to stop pirating books. That’s means me – especially me – and you, and the person next to you, and the people who don’t read this article.
Image Via Medium
Creativity is meant to be experienced, but we live in a capitalist society, in which people need to make money, and sadly, by artists’ work being distributed for free, they lose out. And you know what happens if they lose money? All those books and other creative works we love will no longer we accessible.
Thankfully people are fighting back.
This isn’t the say that musicians and filmmakers aren’t fighting back, but on the literary side, we have Philip Pullman.
Image Via The Guardian
Philip Pullman, author of the famed His Dark Materialstrilogy, and president of the Society of Authors, sent a letter to Greg Clark, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy specifically about ebook piracy, and he’s not alone.
That means THIRTY-FOUR authors wrote to the UK’s Secretary of State to talk about ebook piracy – specifically its growing relevancy and how it hurts the writing industry.
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That’s right Robin, Holy Cow.
What did they have to say? Well, it might scare you.
“We are concerned that websites offering illegal downloads of books are becoming increasingly prevalent,” the letter reads, “We do not want to give any of these sites publicity by naming them here, but they can easily be found”.
The letter goes on to cite its sources, kids, noting that that the growth of online book piracy could “make it even harder for authors to make a living from their work”. If that wasn’t scary enough, The Guardian wrote nine months ago how, “[b]ased on a standard thirty-five-hour week, the average full-time writer earns only £5.73 [$7.49] per hour, £2 [$2.61] less than the UK minimum wage for those over twenty-five.”
This is in thanks to ebooks. If publishers can’t get back their money by publishing books, then why give the authors the money they deserve? Why give them any money at all?
“This will harm writers and readers alike – if authors can no longer afford to write, the supply of new writing will inevitably dry up.”
This isn’t hyperbole, this is straight honest truth. It’s hard to listen to, we might not want to hear it, but we have to. There’s a reason all these authors, all thirty-four of them, wrote to the UK’s secretary of state, “calling on [him] to take action against the blight of online book piracy” because if creative people don’t get paid for their work, then they have to spend less time being creative. That means we get even less books, writings, and other creative works.
Gregg Clark hasn’t given a response, yet, but we sure hopes that after his words comes quick, decisive action because, even though we might not like it, creativity and business go hand in hand in our society. Ironically, piracy is so easy because creative works are all around us, but if piracy were to continue then there WILL NOT be anywhere near as many creative works around us.
Explosive books lead to explosive sales, as British bookseller Waterstones can prove with whopping year-to-date figures: a 50% increasein political book revenue. The explanation? A frightened—and growing—mass of writers and readers “urgently seeking to understand this scary new world.” Though hot, controversial releases like Michael Wolff‘s Trump exposé Fire and Fury and Tim Shipman‘s Brexit commentary All Out Warhave been driving these sales, the relationship between divisive politics and modern literature is hardly a new phenomenon.
Image Via Lifenews.com
These new figures are only a continuation of an ongoing trend, with political literature moving to the forefront after the “twin surprises” of 2016, Trump and Brexit. As early as January 25, 2017, just days after Trump formally took office, George Orwell‘s 1984sales spiked as Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway infamously coined the phrase “alternative facts.” Many compared Conway’s comment to 1984‘s concept of “doublethink,” a relevant term to describe the acceptance of contradictory truths. While always a political text, activists continue to cite the book during protest, with signs such as “1984 is a work of fiction, not an instruction manual” grabbing headlines.
Image Via Twitter
Fear over restriction of women’s rights took hold early in the Trump administration, leading to a February 2017 spike in sales of Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale. Atwood speaks to its timeless relevance: “when it first came out it was viewed as being far-fetched; however, when I wrote it I was making sure I wasn’t putting anything into it that human beings had not already done somewhere at some time.” In the wake of the #MeToo movement, works with similar themes have burst into the public consciousness. Naomi Alderman‘s prizewinning The Powerdepicts a reality in which women have the power to cause pain by violence and consequently live without fear.
“What the raw numbers don’t communicate,” comments Waterstones politics buyer Clement Knox, “is a larger belief permeating through the publishing world that the present poses questions that must be addressed and that writers have an obligation to turn their attention to those questions.”
The Indie publishers known as Canongate, Faber, and Profile/ Serpent’s Tail are releasing a podcast every two weeks to celebrate authors, bookshops and independent publishing! The podcast will be called “Read Like a Writer” and will be hosted by journalist Anna Fielding. It will center around authors providing their favorite book recommendations, focusing on childhood and favorite classics, and talking about their own work. The authors will also include their favorite local independent bookshop and how that specific bookshop was important to them.
The podcast’s first episode has already been released with Matt Haig. Shaun Bythell, Sara Perry, Elizabeth Foley, Gina Miller, and Ben Coates are lined up for the next episodes.
Image Via Bands & Books
“The literary podcast is a format that offers enormous creative possibilities,” says CEO of Canongate, Jamie Byng. “As well as powerful means for promoting authors and their work and celebrating the crucial work booksellers do in bringing great books to readers.” Byng adds the teaming up with UK’s most dynamic publishers in this way him and his colleagues with excitement.
Among the surprises this year is the diversity of experience. George Saunders and Paul Auster are well-established American writers, though Lincoln in the Bardo is Saunders’s (excellent) first novel. These two greats are up against two debut novelists: Fiona Mozley and Emily Fridlund. Lastly, Ali Smith and Mohsin Hamid have both previously been on the Booker shortlist.
Lincoln in the Bardo is told from the perspective of, essentially, a choir of ghosts after Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, dies. Willie is one of the ghosts. It’s a moving, experimental novel with Saunders’s signature wry sense of humor.
4 3 2 1 is similarly experimental, following Archibald Isaac Ferguson as his journey splits off into four divergent, simultaneous tales.
History of Wolves follows a teenage girl’s experience in a cult. The chilly Minnesota setting is just right.
Exit West is about refugees who can walk through doors in order to quickly, mysteriously get to other parts of the world.
Elmet follows a family who moves to Yorkshire’s West Riding, Elmet, but things take a distinctly medieval turn. As her debut, Mozley puts her Ph.D. (candidacy) in medieval history to use in Elmet.
Ali Smith’s Autumn is a post-Brexit novel, and marks her fourth time making the Man Booker shortlist in less than twenty years.
With some notable snubs (Colson Whitehead’s National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad), and heavy focus on American writers, this year’s Man Booker shortlist is raising some eyebrows in the literary community. What’s not in doubt is the talent of these six writers. We’ll find out the winner of the £50,000 prize on October 17th. Until then, it’s time to catch up on these great reads!
Feature Images Via HuffPost, NY Daily News, MPR News, LA Times, Sky News, and Alchetron