The Bible is the most stolen book?

I’ve heard a number of times that the Bible is the most stolen book from bookstores and libraries. Is this for real or just an urban legend?

Way i heard it was that it was most stolen period without the qualifiers of library and bookstore. The explanation was that they were counting the Guideon Bible and supposedly the Guideons want you to take it.

try here and

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(2. repaired my screwed up url tags) - Nick

[Note: This message has been edited by Nickrz]

The most stolen books from bookstores, at least here in Noo Yawk, the Greatest City on Earth, tend to be titles that appeal to multi-pierced “rebel” types…the Beats are popular, as is Charles Bukowski.

The downtown bookshops keep these writers behind the counter to discourage shoplifting.

Let’s not forget that the Bible is also the most widely printed book on Earth. Hence, the percentage of Bibles which are stolen may be miniscule, and less than other books.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

I’m a librarian, and every place I’ve ever worked in has had plenty of Bibles. what does get stolen is books on the occult, GED/SAT test books, resume books, and anything on a summer reading list.

The local library has complained in the past about books on the occult getting stolen. They indicated that religious activists were usually responsible for the theft, but I doubt they had any real proof.

" Steal This Book" I did what a gimick. What a con man.

Speaking also as a librarian, the most frequently stolen books are on the occult, test prep books, and books about drug use. Out here in Southern California, Carlos Castaneda’s works disappear from the shelves about as frequently as we put them out.

Phone books get stolen a lot also.

The local library has complained in the past about books on the occult getting stolen. They indicated that religious activists were usually responsible for the theft, but I doubt they had any real proof.}}

I find this stolen book subject oddly interesting…but for the occult books being stolen by religious activists, there may be some truth to that. My brother has purchased philosophy and occult books that don’t quite jive with Christianity, and found a little tract in one on how he should accept Jesus Christ as his savior. He just uses it as a bookmark.
If religious folk go around planting stuff in occult books, perhaps they steal 'em too. Probably not too common, though; I’m pretty sure the Bible prohibits that.


“. . .they could as easily have been carrying euphoniums and wearing war paint for all the notice their quarry would have taken of them.”
-Douglas Adams, “Life, the Universe, and Everything”

My GF works in a large bookstore. She says that the Bible isn’t really stolen very often, but it is one of the books commonly used for bogus returns.

Some people will just pick up a book off the shelf and peel off the price sticker. Then they walk over to a cashier and say, “I’d like to return this book. It was a gift, so I don’t have a receipt.”

I don’t know why Bibles are chosen, but I’d guess that it’s because of the implied innocence-- if you’re the kind of person who gets a Bible for a gift, you can’t possibly be a thief, right? (Or maybe it’s just that the book tends to be expensive. I dunno.)

I don’t think religious types steal occult books too much. Mostly it seems to be teens that we find trying to sneak them out.(We have an alarm system) I have also found those little Jack Chick religious comic books stuffed in books around the library.

Mr. John wrote, " Steal This Book" I did what a gimick. What a con man."

Although I have not been interested in reading Abbie Hoffman, I found that book of 60s counter-culture intriguing.

This may be a little off topic, but what books are vandalized the most? I figured any book that showed nudity at all would have been vandalized in the past. For example, anatomy books, art books, etc. Anything that horny,underage boys could get at I figured would have the pages of interest torn out. Is there anything else like that?


Here at my library, I’d have to say phone books get the most vandalism. People just rip out the pages. Same with photos in books about sex or rock stars. Magazines also get hit pretty hard. The lowest though, is the people of take very expensive oversized art books and carefully take out the color plates so they can decorate the house. I hope there is a special circle in hell for these SOB’s.

I work at a university library. People sometimes remove pages, or parts of pages with razor blades. We had one damaged medical book with a picture cut out whose captain read, “the preadolescent vulva.”

Jack Chick! Born2read, are those things still around? After a few of those I figured I was doomed anyway,so what was the point. Began to hang out on the fringes of the late 60’s counterculture. Wound up addicted to SD message boards.

check out for Jack Chick comics

I stole a bible from a hotel room. I asked my youth minister brother whether God would be pissed I stole or happy I was trying to read His word.

“Read it and you tell me” was his answer, though I feel it’s a total cop-out.

Brian O’Neill
CMC International Records

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