On Buying Books at Airports

by Beth McAuley

Published at 2011-07-18

I just came back from a short vacation to Jacksonville, Florida. Or JAX, for short. I was visiting family and touring the Floridian countryside, seeing firsthand how hot and dry it is. Draught is a serious problem for the southern U.S. right now. My sister told me that in June and July there were over 300 fires burning in Florida, including a fire in the Okefenokee Swamp, which may still be burning. That should give you a good idea of how dry things are.

On the day I had to return to Canada, I checked in early at the airport, wanting to get through the intense security screening without much delay. It went quickly enough but was nonetheless intrusive. It was my first time through the full-body scanner. Remember when travelling wasn’t as intimidating?
Once on the other side of security, I spent some time roaming around the airport and found a CBS NEWS bookstore. So I wandered in to see what was on offer. The small store was well kept with a wide selection of titles in both hardback and paperback, from current events and business to mystery and fiction to inspirational. I always like to buy a book at the airport as a souvenir of my trip, so I had my eyes open for something that would grab my attention.
Authors’ Names as Trademarks
And there it was. A neat little paperback entitled Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Objective. Now, I haven’t ever read Ludlum’s Bourne novels. I adore the Bourne Trilogy, which I own on DVD and which I watch with some questionable regularity. I remember seeing the third installment, The Bourne Ultimatum, when it was released in theatres in 2007. I never was interested in the books, though, until now.
When I saw that title, my impression was “Hey, a fourth in the series!” which shows you how out of touch I am. The Bourne Objective is actually the sixth in the series. There are three titles before this one, and there is a seventh being released this summer.
Not only that, but on closer inspection, I saw that the book was not written by Robert Ludlum. It was written by the author Eric Van Lustbader. Plus, what really piqued my curiosity was the fact that “Robert Ludlum’s” is a trademark. So the title actually reads Robert Ludlum’s™ The Bourne Objective.
Robert Ludlum died in 2001. I’m guessing that he must have “trademarked” his name so that authors like Eric Van Lustbader could keep the series alive. Why give up a lucrative enterprise just because you’re dead? Of course, I don’t mean to be so light-hearted about this, and I do want to look more deeply into it to see what copyright transaction went on here. If anyone out there can help with this question, please post a comment below.
Read & Return Book Program
The second thing I want to mention about my book-shopping experience at JAX is that the bookstore offers a Read & Return book program. I was given my receipt with a small bookmark, which explains that I can read the book and return it within six months for a 50% refund at any airport bookstore that offers the program. The book is then sold at half price, and I am given $5.00 U.S. that I can spend on another purchase. Isn’t this an interesting way to keep books in circulation? A lending library, of sorts.
Apparently, this program has been around for seven years. The woman at the cash told me it was very successful. “So hold on to that receipt,” she said.
Of course, I will. And I’ll hold on to the book, too. Not only do I not travel that often, but also I like to keep books after I’ve read them. Even if Mr. Ludlum didn’t write this one, it’s the first Jason Bourne novel in my collection.