Missing book

No this isn’t a book review.

I can’t get my hands on Thomas Piketty’s 700 page book Capital in the 21st Century. Forgive me if I am paranoid about this.

Since when was a best-seller impossible to obtain? But try it for yourself. So far I’ve been unable to get Piketty’s book from Amazon. Sure it’s a big honking book. But how come there are so many copies of junk (mass market books by the usual suspects) in bookstores? They manage to pump out mega-copies when they know they can sell the book. What’s different this time? Does someone think this book won’t sell?

Or could something else be at work? Like i said, maybe i am paranoid. You be the judge.

Hm, well let’s imagine you were a happy rich dude and you knew of a book that challenges your right to be a happy rich dude. This might not make you poor, but it might indeed make you unhappy.

Karl Marx did this awhile ago when he wrote Das Kapital, a book that was highly influential, at least at one time. Imagine if you were a rich man and –having great foresight—you prevented THAT book from coming out. You could conceivably alter the course of history.

It’s a huge hypothetical, considering that we don’t know the real impact of Marx’s theoretical book, compared to the Communist Manifesto he co-wrote with Engels.

But I can’t help being troubled. Why is this book so hard to get?

I only know Piketty’s book second-hand, via book reviews & commentaries. There’s a subtle point he makes that’s stunningly obvious when you think of it. There are at least two ways we think of wealth:

  • Comparing salaries & compensation
  • Comparing assets & what people actually own

When you think about it, the idea of comparing salaries is foolish. Kids from the wrong side of the tracks can become doctors or lawyers. They can even become President of the United States. But that’s not to be mistaken for wealth. That’s one of the implications of Piketty’s book, a detailed study of wealth disparities. I can’t comment because –hehehehe—I haven’t seen the book yet, I’m just working from 2nd and 3rd hand information.

Will this book –especially if we’re actually permitted to read it—change anything? It could.  Countries demand taxes that are based on income, yet seem to largely leave property alone. Oh sure, I know you’re thinking you pay property taxes, but that’s not really what I mean. I’m thinking more of taxes on inheritance, particularly for those who own multiple houses.

Can you imagine if we tried taxing those who are super-wealthy? This isn’t like asking for taxes on high-earners, and the fear of disincentive. They have their money & property whether they work or not.

Speaking of property, I hope I can eventually own this book. It’s 800 pages, but surely that’s not asking too much, is it?


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6 Responses to Missing book

  1. I’m sure if you tried a brick-and-mortar bookstore — say Another Story, in Roncesvalles, or Type on Queen West, or Book City on Danforth — they’ll have it.

    I’ve been planning to get hold of it too, but prob after it’s out in paperback.

  2. mezzodiva says:

    It is curiously difficult to get hold of a copy online through Amazon, but brick-&-mortar bookstores have many copies listed in stock. I called a couple of Chapters-Indigo locations here in Toronto to confirm and they are indeed there. There may be copies to be found at smaller local bookshops (those that remain!) if you prefer to give them your business.

  3. billrankin2012 says:

    I got it from Indigo when it came out when Amazon didn’t have it
    No delay whatsoever

  4. barczablog says:

    Thanks for the suggestions! i suppose there’s no substitute for legwork. Also it occurs to me –as i think about systemic logic– that if you were a publisher, you might normally ignore single orders when the stores are selling the book briskly. No conspiracy just normal business practices.

  5. cathyriggall says:

    You can get it on Kindle, and cheaper, too.

  6. It’s also readily available through ABE Books, which is owned by Amazon.

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