The offending article, a book of political portraits, was placed on the street in the Barbès area of north Paris.
"I left the book in the hope that someone would soon adopt it and the book would find an owner,” Gwenaëlle, the book-dropper in question explained to France Bleu.
She had tried to donate the book to a library, but failing that turned to more unconventional methods.
"I do it quite frequently," she added.
Photo: France Bleu Paris et sa région
Unfortunately for her, and for anyone who wanted to pick up a free book that day, she was spotted by Paris's “anti-incivility” brigade – a mobile group of municipal police instated in 2016 who roam the capital on the lookout for daily infractions such as littering.
A week later she was slapped with a fine for “depositing or abandoning garbage, waste, materials or objects outside the authorized locations,” the same fine as throwing a cigarette butt or spitting in the street.
The story was given a happy ending however, as the Paris City Hall decided to waive the fine on Thursday, tweeting: “It was a mistake. Paris loves books, and those who share them even more. We will cancel the fine”.
@FrancebleuParis Il s'agit d'une erreur. Paris aime les livres et encore plus ceux qu'on partage. Nous allons annuler l'amende.— Paris (@Paris) February 16, 2017
But Gwenaëlle says that this kind of case isn't limited to her own experience, “it's quite symptomatic of our time, the fact that we try to classify everything and apply the law with such zeal,” she told France Bleu.
“We're losing our common sense and forgetting that it's just about wanting to share.”
By Rose Trigg