Shoplifters Favor Haruki Murakami in Toronto Bookstores

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In Toronto, Canada, the CBC is reporting that the latest wave of book thieves have a particular fondness for Haruki Murakami.

Surveillance camera image – iStockphoto: Darin Burt

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘It Used To Be All the Beats’
As Ali Chiasson reports for CBC News, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami in Toronto is known “as the most popular author among literary thieves, at least according to the city’s bookstore owners.”

Vintage Anchor tweeted an image last June of books shelved at a store as “most stolen.” The tweet congratulates Haruki Murakami, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and Kurt Vonnegut.

At the city’s A Good Read bookstore, an entire shelf of Murakami’s novels went missing last month, Owner Gary Kirk told CBC Toronto.

“I lost $800 the last two times this guy hit me,” Kir said. The books are “easily converted into cash,” he said, “because they’re very high in demand and they don’t turn up that often used.”

“They took my Norwegian Woods, my Sputniks [Sputnik Sweetheart], all of them.”

Derek McCormack, a 25 year veteran of Toronto’s bookstore scene, currently at Type Books, told Chiasson that the most popular authors to shoplift “come and go in waves.”

“It used to be all the beats,” he said. “Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Then it became [Vladimir] Nabokov by far–you couldn’t keep Lolita on the shelf.”

McCormack said he sees Murakami’s popularity with millennial readers as prompting the latest thievery, “a ton of university students” willing to “pay five bucks for a book regardless of where it came from.”

Kirk and McCormack said they believe there’s a black market in competing used bookstores. Kirk said that the current resale price to a used bookstore for a Murakami title is around $3.

One possible solution? Kirk suggested that bookstore owners mark books’ purchased and sold dates inside the covers.


Ali Chiasson’s full report at CBC is here: There’s a Black Market for Stolen Books in Toronto, Apparently.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.

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