Business journo Maya Fisher-French sings the praises of the effect that the Second Hand Goods Act – published on 1 April 09 – will have on the “pre-owned” book trade.
Syndicates shock book lovers
There are dark and dangerous forces at work in the second-hand book industry that the Second Hand Goods Act hopes to destroy. South Africans have been oblivious of the growing threat of these unknown bands of criminals, who have been breaking into homes and stealing novels by illustrious authors such as Danielle Steel, Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith and John Grisham. The novels are fenced through second-hand book dealers, often rewarded by as much as R10 a book. Grisham in particular attracts a hefty resale price tag.
Customers of second-hand book stores need to be aware that the friendly old man managing their local outlet could be a kingpin. The manager of a book store in a family-oriented shopping centre in the heart of Sandton (who asked not to be named) said that the tentacles of this syndicate are even wider spread than one realises, with supposedly legitimate charities such as the Cancer Association and Hospice involved. These organisations receive books laundered through second-hand book stores which are resold as “clean” items in their charity book stores.
One customer interviewed was shocked and surprised at these allegations and wondered if SAA crew may not be involved. With all the focus on finding their drug stashes, who was questioning the books they were carrying on board for “recreational” purposes? This raises questions about whether this could, in fact, be a global syndicate at work.
Photo courtesy the Mail & Guardian