I’ve been struck this week by two crimes of a literary nature. Naively, I’ve thought lovers of books, reading, writing, the publishing world would be too elevated to sink to theft and fraud, but I’ve been wrong.
First, I learned of a literary agent who accepted clients, but never sent out their manuscripts. When they nudged her for feedback from the editors, the agent forged letters from them. Only recently was she discovered and exposed. What possible gain could she glean from such fraud and inaction? Maybe access to another’s creative work which she could pass off as her own? I haven’t heard that anyone has uncovered her motivation.
Then, I read of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s rare books heist. A long-term archivist and a book store owner joined forces to steal and sell volumes from the rare books section of the main library. The theft over many years added up to a loss of over $8 million before the two thieves were discovered. At this point, the library has only recovered an eighth of that money. The archivist claimed to have been paid a little over a hundred thousand dollars during a period of twenty years or so. The book store owner probably accumulated much more. Still, the motivation for such criminal efforts eludes me.