By Rod Lotter
– The Capitol Hill Times -
A best-seller list is interesting only up to the point that it tells you what is popular now. It is a list that is under continual change, depending on what great new tome is on the horizon.
Looking at this list, provided by Capitol Hill’s Twice Sold Tales, it is of no surprise that the drug-fueled adventures of Hunter S. Thompson makes an appearance (he has probably been on the list since 1972 when “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was first published in book form, if not since the 1966 publication of his first novel, “Hell’s Angels.”) It’s also no surprise that the gritty work of Charles Bukowski and the surreal work of William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick made the list. These three authors have had large quantities of their work stolen for decades.
But these mainstays of stolen glory pale in comparison to the almighty “books on sex with pictures.” Indeed, this genre has probably been stolen since pictures of sex were first printed on a page. Though it’s possible that all the authors on this list will lose their relevance with time, one thing is for sure: “books on sex with pictures” will appear on this list forever.
The list also tells us that occultists love to steal. Expensive occult books and H.P. Lovecraft were dark horses that many may not have seen coming. However, the biggest surprise – by a landslide – was Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, “Long Hard Road out of Hell.” The “satanic” singer’s book is easily the newest addition to the list, as it was published in 1999, and who knew Mr. Manson still had fans?
Jamie Lutton, who owns Twice Sold Tales on Harvard Avenue, said the store locks up about 90 percent of the books on this list. People often steal the books to re-sell at other used bookstores, she said. To combat the ongoing theft problem, the store tags their books, has a security system at the exits and does not allow backpacks past the front counter. “We are offered stolen books more often than we lose books,” Lutton said.
Funny enough, a book can sometimes be judged by its cover. “Books have to match the person selling them; a person selling an expensive, new title who does not look like they read the book is looked at twice.”