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Re: the REAL reason for remainder marks?
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: the REAL reason for remainder marks?
- From: Richard Minsky <minsky@MINSKY.COM>
- Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 05:35:07 -0500
- Message-Id: <200102131035.CAA14434@palimpsest.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.philobiblon.com" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
>before 75 or so, this wasn't done, and unsold books remained in publisher's
storage for years
>Attempts to overturn the decision have not been successful.
Professor Starr is on track, as is the unidentified contributor from
"Synaesthesia Press." Before 1980 you could often get books that were published
30 or more years before from the publisher's inventory. The point was that the
Thor Power Tool company had taken a tax deduction for the cost of production of
spare parts, which were in inventory. This was ruled illegal, and it was
specified that businesses can't write off the cost of production until they
dispose of their inventory--sell it, junk it, burn it, or whatever. Up till then
publishers kept books in the warehouse. After this ruling they remaindered them.
That's why I can't get copies of Larry Sullivan's "The Prison Reform Movement:
Forlorn Hope" for my current "Bill of Rights" series and have to reprint it
myself. I need 25 copies for the edition, which will look something like the one
you may have seen exhibited at The Grolier Club (
In early 1980 I organized a parade and book burning in New York City to protest
the Thor Power Tool decision (which came in late 1979).
I had to get a parade permit at the relevant precinct. That attracted more than
the usual attention of the police, partly because I still had flaming red hair
(a continuation my punk incarnation in London the previous year) and was
preparing to do a public book burning, which was illegal (I had the ACLU behind
me). They had to get fire engines ready along the parade route.
It was scheduled for lunch hour to get more attention. I dyed my hair jet black,
wore my Huntsman's of Savile Row morning suit (grey tails) and used a bullhorn.
The protesters included authors, printers, binders, papermakers, publishers,
housewives, artists, etc. with placards that read "Burn The Law-Not The Books!"
We chanted this slogan as we marched. It was covered by the Associated Press. We
burned the Internal Revenue Service manuals in front of the IRS NY Headquarters
on Warren Street, and marched with the litter of burnt books to Wall Street,
across from the NY Stock Exchange, under the statue of George Washington (site
of his inauguration) at the place on the pavement where the Peter Zenger plaque
is (remember him?). There we burned more of them.
The books I burned were given to me by the Center for Book Arts accountant and
Advisory Board member Rubin Gorewits, who was a leader of the activist group
"Artists' Rights Today." We printed quite a few posters for them at CBA. One of
the issues he later successfully lobbied in Congress was the application of Thor
to artists & writers. He argued that applying this to creators would stifle
creativity in the USA, because artists and authors may never sell their work in
their lifetime, but continually need to buy materials in order to create. If
they could not write off the materials until the work was sold or destroyed,
they would have to burn the art or give it away, and would be unable to develop
a career or build a body of work. He obtained the artists and authors exemption.
You can also read "How Thor Power Hammered Publishing" by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.
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