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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  430 ratings  ·  127 reviews
The year is 1973. A priceless book has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library. A crack team of Bookhunters (aka. library police) have less than three days to recover the stolen item. It's a race against the clock as our heroes use every tool in their arsenal of library equipment to find the book and the mastermind who stole it.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Sparkplug Books (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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If you like libraries, you will LOVE this book. If you like libraries of the pre-Internet era (card catalog, circulation stamps, etc), you will LOVE this book EVEN more.

The premise is that the Oakland Public Library employs a special police force (equipped with a SWAT team, guns, forensic experts, and so much more) to enforce library violations, such as overdue books, damaging library materials, etc. The team, led by special agent Ray, is called into investigate the theft of a precious incunabu...more
Absurdly technical, and also simply absurd. I think the card catalog fight scene at the end was my favorite part.
Hayley DeRoche
I'm a little appalled that the librarian just handed over all of the patron checkout records with nary a thought to patron privacy concerns, since in the words of the American Library Association, "Protecting patron privacy and the confidentiality of library records are deep and longstanding principles of librarianship." Remember the Patriot Act issues?

Ok, I may be overreacting a little. Or not.

That small one-panel eyebrow-raise aside, the book is...ok....more
One of those rare and wonderful offspring of the digital revolution, Bookhunter is available online (free! at and is worth the load-time and slow scrolling.
Noir mystery with a sepia tone, Shiga writes out this hardboiled detective story about a rare book stolen from the Oakland Public Library (yes!) in 1973. Classic in tone, you half expect Bogey or Valient to wander into the frame and contribute a few choice lines.
Sufficiently twisty and turny, there are enough characters and...more
An enjoyable and fun read, but so laden with jargon that I just had to ignore words and push through sometimes. I'm not talking complex scientific jargon (I consider myself a pretty scientific guy), I'm talking about phrases that actually left me wondering whether Shiga just made up some phrases to achieve an effect. Also, some parts of the story made me wonder if I was missing pages, because there seemed to me to be large leaps in logic. But maybe I was missing something.
All that aside, it was...more
If you are a library geek, especially a tech services one, this graphic novel is for you. I truly enjoyed it. Mainly because I like the idea of the library having a police force. Serving and protecting the collection from censorship and theft. Some of the technological things went over my head. I really think that you need to have worked behind the scenes in a library to relate or be geeky enough to do your research about it. All in all, I got to reminisce about the old card catalog and laugh my...more
This graphic novel tells the story of the investigation of a stolen book. In this world there are library police, who are outfitted like a SWAT team and seem to a fully-fledge investigative unit. I want to live in this world.

The story takes place in the 1970s, so we get a good look at the library technology of that decade. The microfilms, shelves that move by wheels, the teletype machines, all of it making me, as a librarian, quite nostalgic. At one point, there's talk of how the thief used a 7...more
It's a 1970s action movie, using real library lingo--correctly! It might not be historically accurate (tattle tape, magnetic security gates, early computers storing records--were these things around in 1973? I sure wasn't, so I have no clue.), but it is a lot of fun.
Graphic novel set in 1970's Oakland involving Library Police a missing book and lots of odd words that didn't make sense, but it was a lot of fun.
Best library cop comic ever? Read it at the author's site:
An anecdote and a larger mystery investigated by one Agent Bay. Much library lingo and violence. The best combination. ;)

Shiga used to work in the Oakland library, hence the insider info. Many of the terms he uses not even I understand (and I've been working in libraries for ten years). The story is set in the 70s, so modern library technology is not part of the story. But the mystery is easy enough to follow anyway.

Shiga's drawings are amusing in and of themselves, the packaging on the outside...more
4.5 stars - Being a librarian, how can you not love a book about the Library Police tracking down a book thief? Bookhunter is a grand police procedural (with more than a few nods to Dragnet, CSI, Mission: Impossible and more) with plenty of Shiga's brilliant brand of humor. The book is even more compelling being set in 1973 when we still had the cherished card catalog as our best friend. Seek this one out. (That is, if you can; somebody probably stole it from your local library... ;-)
Dani Peloquin
The main character is a special agent who only takes cases that involve books and libraries. He is like the old tv show "Dragnet" but for the literary world. His team is made up for a male scientist who is the stereotpical nerd and a quirky female scientist whose speciality is fingerprints. Similar to the current tv show "CSI" the Bookhunter and his staff hace a lab that is specifically for the investigation of book forgeries, fraud, and theft.

The plot is simple but humorous. The Bookhunter is c...more
Do you know what they do to book thieves up at Santa Rita?

–Special Agent Bay, in Bookhunter

A historic bible on loan from the Library of Congress has been surreptitiously swapped for a fake, and the library detectives at Oakland Public have only three days to find the original before the feds 'come to collect.' The mild-mannered public library world has previously collided with the denizens of hard-boiled crime fiction (a fabulous Bogart and Bacall trailer springs to mind), but this time it's p...more
Andy Shuping
Being a librarian I’m always interested in seeing comics based upon libraries/librarians and unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there aren’t that many of them out there. So when I heard about Bookhunter by Jason Shiga, himself a former library employee, I had to give it a read. Bookhunter tells the story of Agent Bay and his crack team of library police that track down those that steal books and this is the mother of all cases for the team. It’s a wild and somewhat crazy ride into the world...more
Jan 26, 2010 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Graphic novel fans, people who are passionate about the library, fans of the sabotage video
Recommended to Dan by: Angeli
The setting, Oakland 1973. This book is about a library detective. His job is to track down lost books. The action is over the top. At one point the detective shoots a fellow officer in his bullet proof vest to provide thrust to get across the room. The whole gag through the book is that the library cops treat missing books like missing people. The story unfolds as a hardcore action packed crime drama, as the library cops investigate a the theft of a rare 19th century bible on loan to the OPL fr...more
Apr 10, 2008 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to David by: Librarians, Death Merchants, Library Administrators, Badass Cops
Remember when Phillip Baker Hall swaggered onto the set of Seinfeld as the library detective Bookman and threw down the due-date gantlet with the wonderfully anachronistic Jack Webb lines “Well I got a flash for you, joy-boy: Party time is over!”? This delightful graphic novel thriller delves beneath what was only hinted at there: the dark secret underworld of the library police. Special agent Bay - a total badass more in the mold of Dirty Harry than Joe Friday – has been put on the trail of a r...more
May 22, 2008 Allison rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who works in a library.
Recommended to Allison by: coworkers
This is a brilliant action-packed thrill ride (I only wish my job was this exciting): All the gritty hard-boiled drama of a 70s cop movie, with very cinematic pacing--this graphic novel could be a storyboard, Shiga renders action with such efficiency. Best of all, the juxtaposition of the setting with the style keeps it hilarious throughout. It's about the library police . Come on, that's just genius.

Really I'd recommend this to anyone who likes graphic novels that are a little different, but m...more
1973. The Oakland Public Library. A rare, pre-1500 printed bible has been stolen. The library's special investigators have only three days to get it back. Sentences are short. Complex library lingo is everywhere.

Jason Shiga is a freakin' genius.

Shiga is a math guy who got diverted into comics, and he comes at the medium with the mindset of a hacker-inventor. As such, one of the remarkable things about this lovely and Awesome-packed little book is that it is completely linear: there are no tabs,...more
sweet pea
this is a brilliant book and a must-read for every book nerd and library nerd. but, let me qualify. book nerd not just in the sense of "i love books". book nerd in the sense of "i love the structure of books". perfect for bookbinders, letterpress printers, and book artists.

the story chronicles a past i wish existed. armed library police officers bringing the hammer of the law down on censors and book thieves. the illustrations are fucking amazing, possibly my favorite in any graphic novel ever....more
I picked this up at the comic store on a whim. I liked the idea of a CSI:Library. Unfortunately the concept is more clever than the execution.

Special Agent Bay leads the Library Police on the hunt for a missing 1838 Caxton bible. The events of the book take place in Oakland, California, 1973. Pre-internet/personal computers/cellphones. This is important to some of the plot points. The story itself works as a mystery and procedural. Unfortunately the procedural and unusual setting are not enough...more
Je viens de terminer Bookhunter et ma déception est à la mesure de mon enthousiasme initial. Vous allez comprendre.
Je trouvais l'idée du livre géniale. Une police des bibliothèques traquant les voleurs de livres. De plus, en feuilletant quelques pages, à moins d'être complètement réfractaire à ce style, on tombe sous le charme des dessins rehaussés par de belles couleurs sépias. Leur simplicité et leur dynamisme font merveille pour donner quelque chose de très moderne et très convaincant.

Mais ç...more
Robert Beveridge
Jason Shiga, Bookhunter (Sparkplug, 2007)

This is just about everything a bibliophile could possibly want in an adventure comic-- mystery! Intrigue! Suspense! All of it centered around a library! A priceless book on tour has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library, and the library police (the bookhunters of the title) have to figure out the mystery before it's time for the book to move on to its next destination. Shiga knows all the tropes of the mystery novel, and how to use them intelligent...more
Peppered with enough inside jokes about incunabula, Caxton Bibles, librarian mystique and the inner workings of the library card system to make a newbie librarian student flush with the thrilling sensation of "Hey! I get that immensely dorky joke!", Bookhunter proves that along with being astonishingly sexy guardians of human knowledge, librarians are also total badasses. Shiga's artwork leaves a little to be desired--a number of panels don't flow that well and the action gets a bit confused as...more
This was a really entertaining romp that, of course, particularly appealed to me as a librarian and book lover. "Bookhunter" is a twisting and complex crime caper along the lines of an '70s action movie, with a gun-slinging super cop using all of his many resources to hunt down a devious criminal mastermind who is almost always just one step ahead. Except in Shiga's world, the cop works for the Library Police and is trailing the mysterious forgery of one of the Oakland Public Library's rarest vo...more
Amy Thorne
My side passion in life is comics about libraries. You'd think this would be a rather limited field in which to dabble, but there are a few titles out there (and even more individual strips to hunt down). "Bookhunter" is a little bit of fantasy fulfillment for those of us who are occasionally guilty of wishing we had maybe a little more forceful authority to go after library-related offenders.

Shiga's 70's-era library cops are pure tough-as-nails awesome. They are armed. They are smart. They are...more
May 23, 2010 Janie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people charmed by card catalogs
Shelves: graphic, fiction
As part of our anniversary the hub and I went to Elliott Bay and chose books off the shelves (6 each this year <3). Like most of our picks, I'd never heard of this book before.

* The thrill of catching book vandals is tempered by the punishments meted. Any policing system has its creepy side.
* The flow seemed potholed.
* Some of the graphic techniques were so clever I wanted to bookmark and kiss them.

I'm feeling a driven whimsy to make a book using kettle stitching. Before last night book I di...more
Clearly the author knows a librarian...or spoke with one long enough to get some buzz words. My theory is that he wrote a police-drama style comic and then just substituted in library words. It's nice to see the library portrayed as a place with valuable objects worth protecting, but ultimately it didn't make much sense. Reminds me a lot of This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All in it's clear affection for libraries but lack of understanding about them.
Love this graphic novel set in Oakland. I'm a sucker for reading things about the places I have lived and who doesn't love the library?
Anthony Giordano
Immensely enjoyable "library caper", that is amazingly rich in technical terms.
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Jason Shiga is an award-winning Asian American cartoonist from Oakland, California. Mr. Shiga's comics are known for their intricate, often "interactive" plots and occasionally random, unexpected violence. A mathematics major from the University of California at Berkeley, Mr. Shiga shares his love of logic and problem solving with his readers through puzzles, mysteries and unconventional narrative...more
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