Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

The True Value of Books

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

The True Value of Books

Article excerpt

Information has value but apparently so does one of its vehicles. Thirty years ago, a Gutenberg Bible cost a million dollars; now, none are available for purchase. Audubon's Birds of America could be had for about the same cost. But things have changed. Inflation, naturally, is a factor, but more important is the alteration in attitude toward art, which currently pleases collectors not for its beauty, which offers esthetic pleasure to its owner, but rather for its investment value, so that the super-rich can just as easily acquire a Jasper Johns or Larry Poons as a Caravaggio or Daumier, and the Johns may cost many millions of dollars more than the classic works. This attitude has influenced the bibliophilic world, so that the value of collectible (desirable) books has increased dramatically. A pristine, jacketed first edition of a Hemingway novel can be offered for $30,000!

Thus, it is no surprise that a group of inept youngsters decided to steal some rare items from the Transylvania College library. Who would have thought that this little-known school owns such extraordinary works? (Many institutions in a similar position sell their collectibles to increase their endowments.) The four bunglers attempted to walk out of the library carrying some volumes, were forced to leave others behind, and manhandled and then tied up one person and ran from another. …

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