Looter A: Listen, mate, two quid will get you ten boxes of the latest Franzen, in hardcover.
Looter B: Bollocks! What about the new Xbox 360 games?
Cutbacks in social services for the poor helped trigger riots this week in England, and good old consumerism kept enthusiasm high among participants. Interestingly, looters were quick to hit outlets that sold hi-tech toys, but they shunned bookstores. Were they put off because they don’t read or because books have little resale value?
From The Atlantic Wire:
Most people seem to be embracing the theory that the rioters simply didn’t want books, particularly in the digital age. “The only shop NOT looted down the road from where I live was Waterstones [bookstore],” British author Patrick French tweeted. “I guess the rioters have Kindles–bought or looted.” Martin Fletcher touched on a similar theme at the end of a report for NBC News. “A final thought that may say a lot about our times,” he concluded. “In this shopping center every store had been looted but one, the book store.” The “underlying message for bookshops,” The Economist adds, is “hardly front-page news: looters, like more conventional consumers, are all too happy to ignore their wares.”
Big Green Bookshop co-owner Simon Key, however, suggests the rioters may have been motivated more by economics than pure consumer desire. “The people who were doing this were mainly going for phone shops, high fashion shops and HMV, looking for stuff that they could sell on,” he told The Financial Times. “Bookshops weren’t top of the list.”