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A Portland, Ore. Rare Bookstore Was Burglarized. Then The Donations Kept Coming

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Passages Bookshop in Portland, Ore., is stocked with books that are hard to find. Take, for example, the work of Ian van Coller. His book "Kilimanjaro: The Last Glacier" is huge - more than four feet wide when you open it to study the photographs of the giant, melting glacier.

DAVID ABEL: Rather than it being an object that you hold in your hand, it's like a space you actually are in.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

That is David Abel. He owns Passages Bookshop. On the night of January 1, his store was burglarized. Nearly a hundred books and works of art were stolen. Abel had spent years collecting them for his shop.

CORNISH: Among the stolen items - a complete set of a rare magazine called some/thing. One issue had a cover designed by Andy Warhol.

ABEL: And the cover was printed as perforated, gummed stamps that you could literally detach. And they had a yellow circle that said bomb Hanoi.

KELLY: Gone. But ever since the burglary, Abel has been getting shipments of books in the mail - not books he ordered, gifts from artists and other booksellers, including one surprising patron.

ABEL: When I got the call, I didn't actually register the name. I heard Smith in New York. And then when she said I read that one of my books was stolen, retroactively, the name clicked. Patti Smith called me.

KELLY: Patti Smith, as in the singer-songwriter, bestselling author. She sent a signed copy to replace the stolen book, and she sent a couple extra, too.

ABEL: She sent me almost all of the books that are currently in print, signed first printings of those books.

CORNISH: Smith told NPR that it was, quote, "merely a neighborly gesture." She also reminded us that we all have to help each other even in the smallest way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GLORIA")

PATTI SMITH: (Singing) Gloria, G-L-O-R-I-A. Gloria, G-L-O-R-I-A. Gloria, G-L-O-R-I-A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.