ABSTRACT

The vast majority of people reading this book will have bought it-the vast majority but not everyone. That the vast majority will have bought it tells us something about the ubiquity of buying and selling in modern life. That others of you may have received it as a gift, or borrowed it for a brief period from a public library, reminds us that there are dimensions of our modern condition that are not so commercialized. And that yet others (I hope not too many) may have “liberated” it from the bookshop without paying for it reminds us that, even when buying and selling is the normal order of the day, not everyone respects the rules of private property on which most modern commercial activities ultimately depend.