Front Cover, image source: Edition Taube

Publisher Note english german

The artists’ book “How to shoplift books” by David Horvitz is a guide on how to steal books. It details 80 ways in which one can steal a book, from the very practical, to the witty, imaginative, and romantic.

“Hide the book inside a fake rock.”

This textbook is readable, but also shamelessly draws attention to its existence as an object, a conversation starter, a thing that can be acquired by fair means or foul. This is a book that turns a point of sale display into an intellectual and ethical adventure.

The work is romantic and anachronistic: as our primary source for buying books becomes impersonal online shops (that pretend to deliver a personal experience) it is almost impossible to spontaneously steal anything, and the act of disobedience becomes a story of the past. Horvitz’ compendium of delightfully written performance instructions is a collection of modern culture scripts and is, so to speak, writing history.

“Cook up some garlic in olive oil in the store. Exit with the book while everyone is caught in the ecstasy of the aroma.”

A comprehensive guide to stealing books with its price printed on the cover, clearly visible, provokes the visitor of a bookshop to become aware of the unconscious decisions, pre-empted by others, that we make every day. The poetic, funny and paradoxical texts also bring to light some structural elements of the mechanics of bookselling and our relation to the exchange of goods. It inserts friction into the conditioned behaviour we display when we are moving through commercial spaces. All advertising tells us to buy things, we rarely come across a message encouraging us to steal—especially not one with the authority that print still carries.

“Fill a bag with the books you want. Make it heavier than you can carry. Ask an employee to help you carry it outside.”

Maybe this publication provides some real options: Buy the book for only 9.99 and then save a lot of money on books in the future with all the skills you can learn with this guide? Steal the book because it is declaring that it’s okay to steal books (although it doesn’t)? Or use it as a device to create a conversation about the power of analogue media, and perhaps decide to support the artists, authors, designers, publishers, printers, distributors and bookshops, and just buy more books?

“Smash a hole in the store’s window. Throw the book through the hole.”

This project by David Horvitz with Edition Taube is an ongoing translation and publishing work. For each language we collaborate with a publisher from the corresponding language region.

Das Künstlerbuch „How to shoplift books“ von David Horvitz versteht sich als Anleitung zum Bücherklauen. Mal praktisch, mal witzig, mal phantasievoll, mal romantisch, beschreibt das Buch 80 verschiedene Möglichkeiten ein Buch zu stehlen. Ursprünglich 2013 veröffentlicht, macht diese Taschenbuch-Neuauflage den begehrten Titel zu einem erschwinglichen Preis wieder verfügbar (für diejenigen, die die darin beschriebenen Techniken noch nicht kennen) und erscheint in mehreren Sprachen.

Dies ist die englische Orginal Ausgabe.

Artists’ Book

How to shoplift books

by David Horvitz

Release Place Zurich, Switzerland
New York, NY, United States of America
Munich, Germany
Edition 1st paperback edition
Release Date April 2019
Designer: Jan Steinbach
Artist: David Horvitz
Series How to shoplift books
Printrun 1000
OCLC Number: 1104295097
ISBN-13: 978-3-945900-20-8
Original Price 9.99 EUR
Subform Textbook
Style/Movement Poetry
Topics Books, Crime, Stealing
Methods Writing
References Fluxus Scores and Instructions
Language English
Work Creation Date 2011 – 2019
Labeling Steal the book while the sun rises over the horizon
Format Softcover
Binding Perfect Binding
Dimensions 10.5 × 15.5 cm
Weight 500 gram
Pages 84
Color 1, blue
Material 80g/qm Holmen Book Extra 2.0
Technique Offset
Color 1, blue
Material 240g/qm Invercote G