Book Theft Rampant in the UK

The Times:
An estimated 100 million books - a black market worth about £750 million - are stolen from bookshops in the UK every year.

...Predictably, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final work in J.K. Rowling's epic series, turns out to be Britain's most borrowed book.

It is not, however, Britain's most stolen book. That accolade belongs to the London A-Z, at least according to a straw poll of more than 50 independent bookshops across Britain (the giants, such as Waterstone's and Borders, say that they don't keep figures).

“I've been in bookselling for 20 years and the London A-Z is the most stolen book in the world,” says Patrick Neale, who worked at a Waterstone's in London before setting up Jaffé & Neale bookshop in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. “A-Zs were like porn - you had to keep them under the till.”

...Literature thieves come in all shapes and sizes. A bookseller from Bakewell in Derbyshire recounts how an “unassuming, doddery old lady” would come to the shop every week and steal a novel by Terry Pratchett, the author of the hugely popular Discworld fantasy series - who, incidentally, is the most stolen author in the UK. Police eventually found some 60 Pratchett books on the old lady's shelves.

...there are some thefts that simply elude comprehension. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger was stolen from Liverpool Central Library so often that eventually the librarians stopped restocking it. And Pam Jones from Troutmark Books in Cardiff reports that someone stole The Devil a Monk Would Be: a Survey of Sex and Celibacy in Religion.

“It was about nuns and monks getting hot under the collar when thinking about the opposite sex, and had tips to calm them down,” she says. “One piece of advice was to sit in an icy pond. I was gutted when that went missing because I was reading it.”

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