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As an aspiring writer, I blog about whatever happens to move me at the moment -- though some posts contain serious content, my big-picture goal is to bring a little humor into an often humorless world! Welcome, y'all, and make yourself at home! Please make sure you update your bookmarks!

When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Buying Used Books

I'm having a problem buying used books lately. Oh, I know how to do it and where to go but I'm having second-thoughts about actually doing this. Why? Because when anyone buys a used copy of a book, the author of said book gets nothing. Now, for some authors, this is important financially -- this is their income and every book sold means more money in their pocket. Anybody who works for a living knows this is crucial -- after all, there are very few people who would give their services/products away for free.

But this also goes beyond income -- it also can determine future book deals. How a book sells could mean the difference between whether a publisher decides to publish the author's next book. And what determines sales is not used books but new ones which are sold from booksellers (including sites such as Amazon.com). Books sold used are not considered in the total number sold -- while this may mean people are reading the book, if they are not buying it, then it means nothing to the publisher.

Personally, as I travel down the hope-to-be-published path, money is not an object. I don't necessarily need it and it's not the reason I write. I obviously give away half of what I write for free already. However, if I do get published, the sales of that first book could very well determine whether I will have another one published. Publishers aren't interested in sharing someone's work with the world because they think a book will enlighten someone -- they are interested in the bottom line. Low sales means no next book.

I've bought a lot of books off of half.com (and a few other sites). Sometimes, it's because it's out-of-print and that's really the only place you can find it. Sometimes the price is so low, these books are just hard to resist. I like hardcover books when I can find them and it's very difficult to pass up a $5 deal on a used site when the book may be $30 in a bookstore. I've also bought books at warehouse or outlet bookstores -- not sure how those figure in or if they do. I've bought bargain books at regular bookstores (again, not sure how or if they are counted). I've also purchased books at yard sales -- which is basically what used book sellers on the net are -- big yard sales.

But, it's gotten to the point, every time I do this, I think, what if this was my book?

Anyway, I don't know what the numbers are. It may well be that the amount of books sold through used sites is negligible. It may be that it doesn't really matter, one way or the other. But I think it probably does.

Which is why I'm making an effort to buy more new books. I still revert to half.com sometimes. There's a book out right now that I want desperately -- but it's a paperback which costs $30 and I haven't been able to bring myself to pay that much for a paperback book. There's one on half.com which is half that price. My finger is twitching but, so far, I haven't purchased it. I'm not sure but I'm wondering, maybe, if I ordered it from Borders -- and paid for it right then, instead of waiting for it to arrive -- if they'd let me use a Borders coupon? (Recently, I had a 40% off coupon, plus $5 in Borders Bucks and I got a $26 hardcover for $11).

Anyway, it's a difficult situation. I have about five boxes of books which are probably going to get sold at a yard sale or I'll end up giving them to the Salvation Army. But, like anybody else who has used books and needs to get rid of them, what are you going to do? You have to dispose of them in some way -- and no matter how you do it, it's not going to help the writer or the publisher. But it certainly helps the reader.

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