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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

5 ways to stop a vanishing book

It's spring in the bookstore, which basically means we're forced to admit we've lost half the stock as the auditors begin to circle overhead like vultures with cries of "but how could you lose it, it has 23 volumes?"

I don't know how we lost it, Susan, that's kind of the problem. 

FATHER: did you find that book yet?
BELLE: [sings] it could be anywheeeere
FATHER: this is why everyone in town hates you

About this time of year, you can expect to see booksellers bustling about the place carrying great big spreadsheets and looking confused. Some departments are more organized than others. Over in Literature, I'll admit we discover about 50 books every year we'd presumed missing or dead and Travel is a nightmare because the books are rather appropriately scattered to the four winds in nomadic tribes, whereas the print department is run with something of an autocratic zeal. The process involves a lot of cursing, cries of "oh I can't believe it" and discontented pooting. [If you encounter a bookseller in this state, the best thing to do is curl up in the foetal position and protect your head and neck.] This yearly ritual of pain means we're something of an authority on misplacing books, and no-one can better understand the pain of looking around to see the book you put down two seconds ago has vanished. 

With this in mind, here are our top five tips for keeping those pesky books in place.

1. Chain them to the shelves. Don't be afraid to go a little medieval and show your books you mean business. Shackle them to the shelves with a heavy metal chain so they can't go walkabouts.
1a. Safeword is "colophon".
1b. Don't lose the key.

2. Hire a Bodyguard. They need to be trained in standing about for long periods of time and glaring quietly at people. Bonus points if they are proficient in close-quarters letter opener combat.
2a. Don't hire anyone called Book McBookthief. 

3. Cages. If you lock cages over the shelves, the worst they can do is shuffle themselves out of order. If the cages are large enough, you can get any of your relatives you don't like in there too, which kills two birds with one stone.
3a. We do not advocate violence against birds.
3b. Except for pigeons. They are an urban menace.
3c. And maybe the occasional turkey.

4. Curses. If you curse your books in Latin, it has a 10% chance of deterring thieves. 
4a. Unfortunately, nowadays this only affects thieves who went to private school, so your mileage may vary.
4b. This increases to 30% if the curse involves some variation on being burned eternally by demons in the afterlife. 

5. Inaccessible Bookcase. Let's see those books disappear when they're suspended above a pit of boiling lava.
5a. This may damage your books. 
5b. Sotherans accepts no liability for books or book collectors damaged in lava related accidents.