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Old 07-27-2007, 09:00 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Literary addict deemed fire hazard

Mobilereader Madam Broshkina sent us in this deeply sobering story of a man whose passion for collecting books has cost him his home. The Times Leader reports:

Quote:
John Puchniak quite literally lives in a sea of books.

He reads constantly except when he's haunting bookstores, libraries and, when he's able to get there, the Philadelphia bookstore that he co-owns. He filled his house with about 3,000 texts until it was repossessed by the bank, which agreed to move them all to an apartment Puchniak rented on North Main Street specifically because there was plenty of storage space.

For about a month and a half, though, Puchniak has had to shuttle his papery world to the Red Carpet Inn on Kidder Street because his apartment was condemned after city code enforcement officers said the books were a fire hazard.
Of course, had Mr. Puchniak collected his texts on an e-book reader (along with a bunch of memory cards), this would never have happened... Another lesson learned, folks: e-reader devices make homes safer!

[via EarthTimes]
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Old 07-27-2007, 11:40 AM   #2
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Provided they don't feature Vaio batteries!
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Old 07-27-2007, 12:47 PM   #3
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Provided they don't feature Vaio batteries!
HEH! *EVIL*
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:09 PM   #4
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Sad world we live in, isn't it? Even a few years ago, someone with a huge library of books and periodicals wouldn't be considered as "creating a fire hazard," he'd be creating a great library! I don't remember too many old mansions being condemned due to the thousands of books in their private library rooms...

Or maybe the problem isn't the books, but the apartment... no sprinkler system, eh?
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:49 PM   #5
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I guess the way to manage the books is important too. Consider a wall of books blocking an egress or a huge pile next to a woodburning stove.

Piled boxes of paper aren't a good idea, you need library shelves. For every buck of media you need to invest one in storage.
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Old 07-28-2007, 05:29 AM   #6
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Of course, had Mr. Puchniak collected his texts on an e-book reader (along with a bunch of memory cards), this would never have happened... Another lesson learned, folks: e-reader devices make homes safer!
Very strange story.

Books are usually very difficult to burn, indeed. I suspect he kept his soaked in kerosene, or covered in celluloid, or something like that.
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:03 PM   #7
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Wow, now that's a collection! Too bad the bank repossessed his home; which makes me wonder, how can he be continually frequenting bookstores and buying books when he cannot pay his mortgage? It's a sad story that banks do this, especially at his age (judging from his looks, he's gotta be in at least his mid-50's). Probably something about him taking out a second mortgage and got in over his head with his book addiction.

Sucks that things were declared a fire hazard, but if he has so much stuff in his new apartment (how'd they know what he had in there anyway? Hidden cameras?) the books probably just added to the clutter. If he co-owns a bookstore, why didn't he just move his books to the storage area of the bookstore? Too many variables.
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:14 AM   #8
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Looks more mid 60s to me.
Banks are notorious for finding ways to expropriate owners of prize property. They might figure that this guy still has a long life yet or inheritors to follow. If they need the property now what better way than scare tactics! Hey governments do it why not them!

I hate banks!!!
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:14 AM   #9
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This seems inexplicable to me. We're academics and there are at least 1500 books in my study at home, all neatly shelved. My partner has at least 2,500 in his home study, plus many boxes more in the attic. And there are at lest 3,000 in our large sitting room.
And we've both got more books in our offices at the university.
I don't see how neatly-shelved books are more of fire hazard than other possessions. And they are good insulation.
But I bought the Sony Reader because I'm running out of shelves.
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Old 07-30-2007, 06:16 AM   #10
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Actually the picture of the apartment does show a bookshelf blocking a doorway, which is very imprudent.
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:00 AM   #11
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Old 07-30-2007, 07:55 AM   #12
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Book do not burn easily.

As a kid living countryside, there was no garbage pickup in our area. I was in charge of disposal for which we had a 45 gal drum and matches. At one point I had about 50 books to process so I put a few in, tore one up and light it. Those books never burned. To get rid of them I had to tear them apart to let air in between the pages. Comparatively a log has sugars, air pockets and solvents to activate combustion, paper has nothing and is completely dead. It will burn only with massive amounts of air going across like in a huge fire. In this case the books are not at fault, I think the boxes of newsprint are.
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:21 AM   #13
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That story makes me strangely uncomfortable....

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