The Book Thieves: A History of Literary Kleptomania

The reading universe has its specific jargon, a whole series of terms used among readers to refer to individual attitudes and customs. So, if we talk about bibliomania, we will refer to an obsessive-compulsive disorder for collecting books.

If someone is a bibliophile, they feel a deep love for reading without incurring madness. With a slightly more pessimistic reading, we find ourselves before the term bibliokleptomania, which refers to the desire to steal books compulsively. In other words, it may be funny, but after all, no one likes having a book stolen.

Have you ever been the author of such a crime? Indeed sometimes you have kept a book from the library or from a friend who has lent it to you and to whom you have never returned it. But don’t worry, due to a specific error, you cannot be considered a bibliokleptomaniac. On the other hand, stealing books worth $ 200,000 is considered compulsive theft.

John Charles Gilkey was a worker at the Saks Fifth Avenue department store in San Francisco. Gilkey used a Modern Library list of the 100 best novels of the moment to begin his collection and, with such loot, move up socially. To carry out his theft, he used bad checks and stolen credit card numbers that he got through his sales position. For his play to be round, he had to change his identity to a more sophisticated one. However, Gilkey was not a lover of books, but a mere collector who turned this business into his way of life, getting arrested on several occasions. Besides, he also spent a long time in San Quentin State Prison, California.

Stanislas Gosse also stayed in prison for more than 18 months, although it is short in proportion to the robbery he committed. Gosse, a mechanical engineering professor in Strasbourg, discovered through reading a book on ancient architecture that the isolated monastery of Mont Sainte-Odile, located in Alsace, had a secret passage directly to the library. We are talking about the year 2000 when this building was already working as a renovated hotel. Its library was known for housing priceless books and manuscripts. Large volumes that inexplicably began to disappear from the shelves without anyone seeing anything. They discovered this bibliokleptomaniac who stole more than a thousand books during three years through a video recording.

However, when it comes to stealing high-value manuscripts, Raymond Scott takes the top prize. This antique eccentric British, now deceased, who was posing as an international playboy, holds responsibility for the theft of one of the approximately 200 existing copies of the First Folio of Shakespeare, which for those who know, is not a copy of the first publication of Shakespeare’s collection of thirty-six plays. He broke the book’s binding, which, according to the prosecution, and stole from the Pallas Green museum from Durham University in England. Instead, Scott’s version was different. He said that he found it in Cuba through a waitress at a hotel in Havana, whose partner had inherited the book from his mother and asked him to sell it to a bookstore United States because he could not travel. The book reappeared in 2008 when Scott tried to sell it at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, yes, in pretty bad condition, with some pages missing. Even so, its value was quantified at 1.2 million euros.

It turns out that, as beautiful as the hobby of stealing books may be, it is still a crime, and if not, they tell Helen Schlie, who wept heartbrokenly over the theft of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, of which it was the owner. A book that was around $ 100,000 and that he housed in his library without any protection or security. Schlie later discovered who had stolen her treasure, having tried to sell it: Jay Michael Linford, who was sentenced to a long term in jail.

I found tons of books in Argentina!

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