Has Amazon turned me into a cyber-criminal?

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A key strategy to minimize my eco-footprint is to buy everything I can second hand. Clearly this works better with some things (cloths, tools, electronic equipment) then others (shoes, underpants, food).

As soon I discovered that I could buy second hand books on Amazon I figured that, for books I couldn’t find in my local second-hand book shop, this was the most ethical option. Personally, I don’t buy the guff that Kindle (or equivalent) is the eco option for reading. That electronic ‘ware has a big embedded footprint and you will have to worked through a large number of books before it konks out to call it quits. As far as i am concerned the second hand book is king.

I recently purchased a good stash of books on Amazon.co.uk. As always I got a kick as they plopped through the letter box but this time the kick was of the unpleasant variety. As I was flicking through two of my most exciting recent purchases I found out they may have been pilfered from public librarys.

I am about a third of the way through the excellent From Counter Culture to Cyber Culture –  Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism and every time I open it I am faced with ‘Manhattan Public Library – Copy Withdrawn’. The second book that looks stolen is The Transition Handbook. On the inside front cover it says ‘Darlington Borough Council (last withdrawn 04.02.2010)’.

I feel guilty as hell! Have I paid some sleaze ball to skank wicked books out of the public domain? Am I handling stolen goods? I am in a moral quagmire without a paddle. Should I:

  1. Report the book seller?
  2. Post the books back to the library?
  3. Round up a posse and go vigilante?
  4. Assume this is the latest tactic of Big Oil to remove key information from the public domain and spread confusion.

Any thoughts appreciated.


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