Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cash on the Bookshelf

Most everyone has seen one of those "special" hollowed-out books that are supposedly used to hide cash and other valuables in plain sight on a person's bookshelves. I remember seeing a variety of pre-made book safes on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble a couple of years ago, in fact. That selection, all minus dust jackets, seemed to be books purchased in bulk from publisher overstock and subjected to very sharp slicer of some sort. If I remember correctly, there was a cheap little plastic insert-box pushed into the carved out hole, complete with a little door to trap the valuables inside.I think they sold for four or five dollars and I would have been tempted to buy one if it had included a dust jacket. Without a jacket, the book would have stood out on my shelves like a sore thumb - not a good thing when you're hoping something will blend into the background.

Well, someone actually used one of those things (or one he manufactured himself) to stash emergency cash and credit cards and almost 20 years later his brother donated it to a library book store in Maryland. Maryland's has the story - including the surprise happy ending:
Schnitman said his younger brother, Jeffrey Schnitman, had kept a "rainy day fund" of cash and credit cards in the book. He would not disclose the full amount of money.

When his brother died 17 years ago at the age of 36 from Crohn's disease, Schnitman kept the faux book along with its contents on his own bookshelf.

But in the months following his move from Gaithersburg to Chevy Chase last July, Schnitman accidentally donated the hollowed-out book and several others to the Montgomery County Friends of the Library's used bookstore on Boiling Brook Parkway.

"So I realized probably six weeks later that the book was missing and I went to the bookstore and magically someone had found it and turned it in," the 56-year-old said.
Frankly, the most surprising thing about this story is that Mr. Schnitman got his money back (click on the link for that part of the story) - maybe criminals don't frequent used book stores?


  1. Sam, I bought one of those dustcoverless books and just put a dustcover on it from a book I was donating to the library!

  2. I wonder why they put a Canadian passport in the book.

  3. I don't think outright criminals go to library book sales. Used book sellers do, though. ;0)

    Can I just say that one of the best things about your blog is that you always have book and library related news stories posted. Thanks.

  4. Doh! That's too easy, JoAnn...and embarrassingly easy. :-)

  5. Sorry, John...the picture does not match the article. My fault.

  6. Thanks, C.B. I appreciate that.

    Gotta watch those used booksellers...bunch of cutthroats.

  7. I'm not positive, but he kind of looks like and has the same name of my 5th grade teacher, in that same county. Wow. I once had my car stolen and the only thing they didn't steal from the car (it was stripped) were the library books I had in the car.