The artists’ book “How to shoplift books” by David Horvitz is a guide on how to steal books. It details 80 ways in which one can steal a book, from the very practical, to the witty, imaginative, and romantic.
“Hide the book inside a fake rock.”
This textbook is readable, but also shamelessly draws attention to its existence as an object, a conversation starter, a thing that can be acquired by fair means or foul. This is a book that turns a point of sale display into an intellectual and ethical adventure.
The work is romantic and anachronistic: as our primary source for buying books becomes impersonal online shops (that pretend to deliver a personal experience) it is almost impossible to spontaneously steal anything, and the act of disobedience becomes a story of the past. Horvitz’ compendium of delightfully written performance instructions is a collection of modern culture scripts and is, so to speak, writing history.
“Cook up some garlic in olive oil in the store. Exit with the book while everyone is caught in the ecstasy of the aroma.”
A comprehensive guide to stealing books with its price printed on the cover, clearly visible, provokes the visitor of a bookshop to become aware of the unconscious decisions, pre-empted by others, that we make every day. The poetic, funny and paradoxical texts also bring to light some structural elements of the mechanics of bookselling and our relation to the exchange of goods. It inserts friction into the conditioned behaviour we display when we are moving through commercial spaces. All advertising tells us to buy things, we rarely come across a message encouraging us to steal – especially not one with the authority that print still carries.
“Fill a bag with the books you want. Make it heavier than you can carry. Ask an employee to help you carry it outside.”
Maybe this publication provides some real options: Buy the book for only 9.99 and then save a lot of money on books in the future with all the skills you can learn with this guide? Steal the book because it is declaring that it’s okay to steal books (although it doesn’t)? Or use it as a device to create a conversation about the power of analogue media, and perhaps decide to support the artists, authors, designers, publishers, printers, distributors and bookshops, and just buy more books?
“Smash a hole in the store’s window. Throw the book through the hole.”
This project by David Horvitz with Edition Taube is an ongoing translation and publishing work. For each language we collaborate with a publisher from the corresponding language region.
So far, the following languages have been released:
English: How to shoplift books (978-3-945900-20-8) w/ Printed Matter, Inc.
French: Comment voler des livres (978-3-945900-21-5) w/ Yvon Lambert
Spanish: Cómo robar libros (978-3-945900-22-2) w/ Gato Negro
German: Wie man Bücher klaut (978-3-945900-23-9) w/ Mark Pezinger
Italian: Come rubare i libri (978-3-945900-24-6) w/ ChertLüdde & Mousse Publishing
Chinese: 携书潜逃的N种方式 (978-3-945900-25-3) w/ tria publishing platform
Greek: Πως να κλέψεις ένα βιβλίο (978-3-945900-26-0) w/ Phenomenon
Dutch: Hoe je boeken steelt (978-3-945900-27-7) w/ PrintRoom
Brazilian Portuguese: Como furtar livros (978-3-945900-28-4) w/ No_Libros
Lithuanian: Kaip vogti knygas (978-3-945900-29-1) w/ Six Chairs Books
Danish: Bogrov (978-3-945900-30-7) w/ Lodret Vandret
Korean: 책을 훔치는 완벽한 방법 (978-3-945900-31-4) w/ ENKR 엔커
Georgian: როგორ მოვიპაროთ წიგნები (978-3-945900-32-1) w/ They Said Books & E.A. Shared Space
Hebrew: w/ Sternthal Books (איך לגנוב ספרים (978-3-945900-33-8
Romanian: Cum să furi cărți (978-3-945900-34-5) w/ PUNCH
Swiss German: Wiemer Büecher chlaut (978-3-945900-35-2) w/ Hacienda Books
Russian: Как красть книги (978-3-945900-36-9) w/ Samopal Books
Japanese: 書店で万引きをする方法 (978-3-945900-37-6) w/ SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo Art Book Fair
Maltese: Kif tisraq il-kotba (978-3-945900-38-3) w/ Sendb00ks
Kosovo Albanian: Qysh me vjedhë libra (978-3-945900-39-0) w/ LambdaLambdaLambda
Hindi: दुकान से किताबे कैसे चुराए (978-3-945900-60-4) w/ Bombay Underground
Turkish: Kitap nasıl çalınır (978-3-945900-61-1) w/ FAİL Books
Serbian Cyrillic: Како мажњавати књиге (978-3-945900-62-8) w/ Културни центар Београда & ЦУРА.
Serbian Latin: Kako mažnjavati knjige (978-3-945900-63-5) w/ Kulturni centar Beograda & CURA.
Estonian: Kuidas raamatuid varastada (978-3-945900-64-2) w/ Lugemik
Hungarian: Hogyan lopjunk könyveket (978-3-945900-65-9) w/ ISBN Books+Gallery
Icelandic: Hvernig hnupla skal bókum (978-3-945900-67-3) w/ Tunglið forlag
Swedish: Hur man knycker böcker (978-3-945900-68-0) w/ ll’Editions
E-book English: How to shoplift books (978-3-945900-69-7) w/ corrupted_formats