Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero’s Books.
His collection ranges from best sellers, such as Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October” and Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” to obscure titles, like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn’t even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full.
So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society’s diminishing support for the printed word.
“This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today,” Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.
The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn’t have a permit for burning.
Wayne said next time he will get a permit. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply estimated at 20,000 books is exhausted.
I expect he could have done a bit better if he computerized his inventory, and offered it for sale via the major Internet used book sites.