An excerpt from a discourse by Osho.
I have been collecting books from my high school days. You will be surprised that by the time I was a matriculate I had read thousands of books and collected hundreds of books of my own and great masterpieces. I was finished with Kahlil Gibran, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, Turgenev — the best as far as writing is concerned. When I was finishing my intermediate I was finished with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Bertrand Russell all the philosophers that I could find in any library, in any bookshop, or borrow from anybody.
In Jabalpur there was one beautiful place where I was an everyday visitor; I would go for at least one or two hours. It was called the Thieves’ Market. Stolen things were sold there, and I was after stolen books because so many people were stealing books and selling them and I was getting such beautiful books. […]
To me the Thieves’ Market has been the best source — even books which were not in the university library I have found in the Thieves’ Market. […]
I once got into trouble because I purchased three hundred books from one shop, simultaneously, in one day, because a whole library of somebody’s had been stolen. Just for one hundred and fifty rupees, three hundred books! I could not leave a single one. I had to borrow money and immediately rush there, and I told that man, “No book should go from here.”
Those books had seals with a certain man’s name and address, and finally the police came. I said, “Yes, these are the books, and I have purchased them from the Thieves’ Market. In the first place this man is almost ninety years old — he will be dying soon.”
The police inspector said to me, “What are you arguing about?”
I said, “I am simply making things clear to you. This man is going to die sooner or later; these books will be rotten. I can give you these books, but you have to give one hundred and fifty rupees to somebody, because I have borrowed the money. And in fact you cannot catch me because that shopkeeper is there; he will be a witness for me that the books were sold to him. Now, he cannot go on remembering who is selling him old newspapers, and old books; he does not know who has brought them.
So first you have to go to that man and find the thief. If you find the thief get one hundred and fifty rupees from him or from anywhere you want. These books are here, and they cannot be in a better situation anywhere else. And that ninety-year-old man won’t be able to read them again, so what is the fuss?”
The inspector said, “You sound sane, logical, but these are stolen books… and I cannot go against the law.”
I said, “You go according to the law. Go to the place from where I have purchased them — and I have purchased them, I have not stolen them. That shopkeeper has also purchased them, he has not stolen them. So find the thief.”
He said, “But on the book there is a seal and the name.”
I said, “Don’t be worried — next time you come there will be no seal and no name. First you find the thief, then I am always here, at your service.”
And as he went away I tore one page from each, the first empty page which means nothing, and I just signed the books. From that day I started signing my hooks, because it might have come in handy someday if my books were stolen — at least they had my signature and the date. And because I had taken out the first page, I would sign on two or three pages inside also, in case my books were stolen, but they never were.
Osho, From Personality to Individuality, Ch 4