Literary larceny

February 26, 2009

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It’s already pretty obvious that print journalism, as I’ve referred in another blog post, is going the way of the long-extinct dodo bird. And with all the talk in the techno world lately about those new digital readers many predict will replace those bound pieces of paper with writing on them we know as “books,” it looks like one local couple this week tried in vain to save the printed page by stealing it.

The theft of at least 23,000 publications from Newbury Park-based Sage Publications by Jose and Risa Hernandez of Simi Valley plays out like a twisted version of a “Fahrenheit 451.” Instead of the burning of books, their obsoleteness by mere attrition prompted a salvage effort by the Hernandez’s.

They were caught after a probe into Sage’s operations revealed the books — estimated at $1.1 million — were swiped by the couple when the materials, left in bins for recycling, went missing.

Of course, I’m not painting the couple as a pair of heroes. Their motive behind taking the books was for resale on the Internet. According to the police, the online sale of the books yielded a great profit margin, thereby undercutting the official retail price of Sage books from its parent company.

For the crime, the Hernandez’s are facing charges of grand theft and possession of stolen property.

One thing’s for sure: there’s an awful lot of time in prison to read a book.

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