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


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.


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.


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.