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#18549 - 28/04/05 07:40 PM "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Raymondo Offline

Full Member

Registered: 04/03/01
Posts: 6085
Loc: Banbridge. N.Ireland
The above title is a quote from Ralph Emerson. I got a leaflet through the post about a book burning down near The Martyrs Stake on the River Bladnoch. It's entitled "Beltane Book Burning" It invites everyone to attend on Sunday 1st May at 5pm and burn old books.
This seems a somewhat unusual thing for people in Scotland's Booktown to be doing.
"Local artists Norrie Steele and Julie Houston have created a sculpture using discarded stock from a second-hand bookshop which you are invited to view for a limited time, then burn."

"The paper burns but the words fly away" Ben Joseph (AD 50 - 135) Jewish Palestinian Leader.
If there are any Barnhards or good whisky books I'll try to rescue them.
_________________________
Raymondo

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#18550 - 28/04/05 10:15 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Åke Johansson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 16/07/02
Posts: 2195
Loc: Hammar�, Sweden
To me burning of books is a complete taboo, something performed only by dictatoric regimes. What is the purpose of the Beltane Book Burning?

Åke

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#18551 - 02/05/05 12:21 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
kennyaitchison Offline
Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 63
Loc: AIRDRIE
I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU AKE, I HOPE IT,S PISSIN DOON WI RAIN,AND I THINK I,LL COME DOWN THERE WI A COUPLE OF GOOD BIG HEAVY BIN BAGS AND BE A CHEAP-SKATE
CHEERS KENNY

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#18552 - 03/05/05 12:29 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
rick seeley Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/01/05
Posts: 34
Loc: Hollingworth, Cheshire
I think a book burning defies all logic, and cannot think of a single justification for it. I imagine that if they looked hard enough the organisers of this event could find a charity that could supply the used books to developing countries with a need for English language books, even if it is fiction. In fact, Kenny, maybe you could gather up what you can that's in good condition and they can be donated on behalf of the Bladnoch Forum to a good cause, even if it just allowing them to be re-sold at an Oxfam shop. Like they say, "every little helps"!

Rick

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#18553 - 03/05/05 02:42 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Casey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/01/04
Posts: 466
Loc: Glasgow
 Quote:
Originally posted by Raymond:

If there are any Barnhards or good whisky books I'll try to rescue them.
I got a centenary edition Barnard recently for £5. Seems like a bargain!

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#18554 - 03/05/05 05:52 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Par Offline
Full Member

Registered: 13/11/03
Posts: 2231
Loc: Gothenburg, Sweden
Back in the dark ages (the 1930's), an insightfull man commented that "where they are burning books, they will soon be burning people, too".

I'm not much for burning books.

/ Pär

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#18555 - 03/05/05 09:27 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
kennyaitchison Offline
Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 63
Loc: AIRDRIE
WELL SPOKEN RICK HEAR HEAR, IS THERE ANYBODY ELSE IN HERE READING THIS

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#18556 - 16/05/05 09:46 AM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Bookburner Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 16/05/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Wigtown
I am the book burner. I am also a second-hand book dealer.

What do you all think becomes of second-hand books which have reached the end of their life and have absolutely no chance of ever selling again? If any of you can present a reasonable response to this question instead of just saying book burning is a bad thing without any effort to explain why, then please feel free to contribute an intelligent comment. I haven't read any so far.

Of course book burning is not a more environmentally friendly solution than landfill but this is where most second-hand books with no value currently end up. My argument for having this event was based on the fact that if the alternative fate of the books was to rot in a hole in the ground why not do something more interesting and use them to make a fire sculpture as a publicity stunt to get people talking about the problem, and to raise the profile of Wigtown as Scotland's National Book Town. Richard Booth who set up Hay on Wye as Booktown about 30 years ago once told me that he got far more press coverage from declaring war on the Welsh Tourist Board than from setting up a successful Book Town, and to some degree I agree that the media engages far more enthusiastically with a controversial story which polarises opinion than one of small rural town which is enjoying economic regeneration. So, yes it was a publicity stunt rather than a practical measure and it has worked - a full page in the Financial Times, half a page in the Sunday Times, a quarter page in the Sunday Herald and a five minute interview on Radio Scotland all of which mention Wigtown and discuss the issue of "dead" books.

Of course there are alternatives to burning books but one of the aims of this excercise is to lobby our politicians into setting up a recycling unit here in the town, and several dealers have been doing this for some time without success so I thought it was time for drastic action. Some of you suggest that we could have given the books away, to which I ask you to whom? Who would want a Desmond Bagley paperback with no front cover and the last 30 pages missing? The reason that we didn't give these books away is that nobody would take them - we've tried putting a box of books on a bench in front of the shop with a free books sign and at the end of the day they are all still there. If any of you want to come and take them away for free you are welcome - if not then don't complain if I throw them out or burn them.

My storage space is valuable and I would rather have it filled with books which I can sell than rubbish which people won't even take away for free. We regularly take boxes of the better material which we reject to the local charity shops, but even this costs money and takes time, added to which these shops are to some degree in competition with us but they have the advantage of being staffed by volunteers, rate concessions and all the other advantages associated with charitable status as well as being given their stock for free.

Book dealers generally don't like destroying books but we have to be pragmatic about business pressures and if nobody wants to even take these books away for free we don't really have much choice in the matter. I don't feel sentimental about chucking them out anymore - when you are trying to make a living in a small town in the isolated South West of Scotland there's not a lot of room for sentiment about dead stock.

Some people loved the idea of the Book Burning, presumably not all for the same reason, but one person gave me a fairly good reason which was that they thought our event turned something normally associated with oppression and intimidation into a party and a celebration with a positive goal and in some way put a distance between the historical associations of book burning and today's world.

Anyone who is incapable of drawing the distinction between a tyrannical regime or fanatical maniac buring books to suppress the contents or oppress a minority or ideology, and a bunch of people who have taken a waste product (albeit books) to create a work of art, have a party, and promote an environmental solution to a problem is probably the sort of person who falls into the former category. A number of people have a knee-jerk reaction which is to say "the Nazi's burned books" and argue that this makes book burning a taboo - they did so for completely different reasons and there are absolutely no similarities between what we have done and they did. You might just as well say "the Nazi's made the trains run on time" and argue from that standpoint that we should have a protest every time a train arrives on time.

The books we burned were generally books in very poor condition, but there were others in good condition which would never have had any chance of selling again such a odd volumes of modernish encyclopaedias, repealed statutes and other irrelevant legal texts, Readers' Digests etc. There was nothing of any financial or historical value - if there had been I would have sold it rather than burn it.

If you don't want to read about another book burning in six months time then come up with a solution, I live in the real world where dealing with dead stock is a practical problem. The woolly notion that books are sacred and should never be destroyed is - like a tatty paperback with missing pages and water damage - a load of rubbish.

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#18557 - 16/05/05 06:43 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Sue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 14/05/03
Posts: 685
Loc: Cumbria
So there you have it folks, a comprehensive reply from the Bookburner and welcome Shaun to the forum.
I have to add that the book burning was quite a festive occasion, the books burning better than the sausages at the BBQ.
According to local gossip, the distillery will be burning all it's unsaleable whisky at next years event, just to get a bit of free publicity in Whisky Magazine.
www.the-bookshop.com/news.asp
raymond
PS not sure why I've got Sue's photo

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#18558 - 16/05/05 08:39 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Sue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 14/05/03
Posts: 685
Loc: Cumbria
I think the office computer must still be logged in with my name - I put out an appeal for guides last week!!
Perhaps I'd have more luck finding them doing it in your name!!

Sue

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#18559 - 18/05/05 09:22 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Åke Johansson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 16/07/02
Posts: 2195
Loc: Hammar�, Sweden
So it wasn´t really books but garbage you were burning though I take it you also aimed a bit at tickling the nerves by calling it book burning. And so you got the publicity. Will you achieve the recycling station as well? Landfill is such a euphemism and paper can be recycled quite a few times saving lots of trees or at least be burned for energy recovery with minimum impact on carbondioxide levels of the atmosphere.

Åke

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#18560 - 19/05/05 03:05 PM Re: "Every book burned enlightens the world"
Bookburner Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 16/05/05
Posts: 2
Loc: Wigtown
Ake, yes the whole thing was a publicity stunt obviously intended to push the issue of recycling books into the media, and not to suppress information although it is this association with intimidation that makes it such a controversial issue. Raymond, perhaps we could douse the next book pyre in your unsaleable whisky to help light it and get some publicity in Whisky Magazine too?

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