Come rubare libri is the Italian edition of the artist book How to shoplift books by David Horvitz. It details 80 ways in which one can steal a book, from the very practical, to the witty, imaginative, and romantic—a comprehensive guide to stealing books with its price printed on the cover, clearly visible, which 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 behavior 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.
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.