”Hur man knycker böcker” is the Swedish appropriation of David Horvitz’ artist’s book “How to shoplift books”, translated by Andreas Friberg Lundgren. It is a comprehensive guide on how to steal books, detailing 80 ways in which one can steal a book, from the very practical, to the witty, imaginative, and romantic.
”Släpp ut en flock fiskmåsar i butiken. Lämna med boken under uppståndelsen”.
This textbook is readable, but also shamelessly draws attention to its own existence as an object, a conversation starter and a thing which can be acquired by means fair or foul. This book transforms a sales display into an intellectual and ethical adventure.
The work is both romantic and anachronistic. As our primary source for buying books today is often more or less impersonal online outlets, it is almost impossible to spontaneously steal anything. Thereby, 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 also, to an extent, writing history.
“Tänd en dynamitgubbe i butiken. Smit ut i samband med detonationen. Tacka Alfred Nobel för hans bidrag till Sveriges kulturliv.”
The poetic, funny and paradoxical texts in this comprehensive guide 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 most of us put on display whilst we are moving through commercial spaces. While all advertising tells us to buy things, we rarely come across a message encouraging us to steal – especially not one with the authoritative weight still carried by a printed book.
“Fyll en väska med böckerna du vill ha. Gör den tyngre än vad du själv klarar av att lyfta. Be en i personalen hjälpa dig att bära ut den”
This publication provides a clear starting point for a continued multi-optional narrative: Buy the book for only 9.99 and then save a lot of money on books in the future, with all the tricks taught in this guide? Steal the book because it is indirectly declaring that it’s okay to steal books? 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, by buying more books?
“Krossa ett fönster och kasta ut boken.”
The book is co-published with Edition Taube, as part of their ongoing translation and publishing work with David Horvitz. The book has already been translated to more than 20 languages and for each language, the team collaborate with a local publisher.