An autographed copy of Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” is missing from a downtown Charleston bookstore, and the business fears it’s been stolen.
The book, part of about three dozen rare books kept near the cash register at Blue Bicycle Books, is valued at $1,750.
Shop worker Jessika Stocker noticed the book out of place and originally thought another worker had moved it after a busy weekend in late May.
“I didn’t think someone had stolen it,” she said. “I thought someone had just taken it to the back to repair it.”
Shop owner Jonathan Sanchez said sometimes books need a new cover.
The shop has another copy of the book that is unsigned. It sells for $200.
“I think it’s really unfortunate, and it doesn’t speak highly of them if they are going to take from an independent bookstore or any store,” Stocker said.
Sanchez filed a police report over the missing book and has already received an insurance payment.
“It’s a very big store with a lot of hiding places,” he said. “It’s not the type of book that someone would take and just put down somewhere. Occasionally, someone has a book they want and might hide it. I can’t imagine someone doing that with a $1,750 book.”
He said the past two months in the 2,000-square-foot King Street store have been among the busiest ever.
“We are focused on not being like a traditional bookstore by putting books away in glass cases,” he said.
The book is not a first edition, but it has the Pulitzer Prize stamp on it, he said.
He said there are ways to identify the book if someone tries to sell it, but he declined to say what they are for proprietary reasons.
“If we get it back, we will return the insurance money,” he said.
Published in 1960, “To Kill a Mockingbird” won the Pulitzer Prize the following year and in 1962 was developed into a movie starring Gregory Peck, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch.
In February, an unpublished manuscript of a sequel to the classic novel was discovered and will be published next month. It’s called “Go Set a Watchman.”
Lee is now 88 and lives in an assisted-living center in Alabama.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.