RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Used Books and ethics

From: Ron Clinton (
Date: 05 May 2010

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    I haunt a lot of used bookstores -- well, perhaps not a *lot* since there fewer and fewer of these operations around -- but would agree the ARCs make up a very insignificant my experience, in fact, much less than Dave's number... probably a fraction of a percent.

    I'd also agree that used bookstores are valuable and valid retailers. Any considerations or efforts to curtail their resale business is, I believe, misguided. Not only for the reasons already discussed, but I'd also suggest that a vast majority (more than half, certainly) of the books there are OP
    (out-of-print), so even those who suggest (I believe wrongly) that one should buy new because buying used takes a royalty away from an active author should see that, in most cases, this simply isn't the case.

    Ron C.

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of davezeltserman
    > Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 10:34 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Used Books and ethics
    > Even though I stated my earlier preferences now for new books, I agree
    with Jim +
    > Bob + others on this subject. Generally, used + library books are good for
    > anything that helps to get the author read is good. One small nitpicking
    > though (since I'm in a nitpicking mood)--not all books in used bookstores
    were first
    > bought--more and more ARCs and free books from the publisher are ending up
    > used bookstores and online--but this would be a small percentage of
    overall sales
    > (probably less than 5%), and anything that gets the author read is good
    and can
    > lead to sales down the road.
    > --Dave
    > --- In, JIM DOHERTY <jimdohertyjr@...> wrote:
    > >
    > > Bob,
    > >
    > > Re your comment below:
    > >
    > > "I've never understood the bubbub about used books. in order for them to
    get into
    > a used bookstore so0mebody had to but them. And you got your royalty. And
    > figure anybody buying my books used will eventually-- hopefully- -start
    buying them
    > new."
    > >
    > > As an author (if one of far less prodigious productivity), I'm with you
    on this.
    > >
    > > Being a devout,practicing Catholic, I'm capable of feeling guilty about,
    > practically everything. But it's never occurred to me to feel the tiniest
    iota of guilt
    > about buying a used book.
    > >
    > > Nor have I ever felt guilty about borrowing one from the public library.
    > >
    > > In both cases, as you point out, the book's already been bought, the
    > already gotten his royalty, so no one has a beef. The book, as a physical
    > rather than an intellectual property, now belongs to someone else (in the
    > case, first the reader, then the bookseller the reader sold it to; in the
    latter case, the
    > tax-paying public), and that new owner of the physical entity is, and
    should be,
    > absolutely free to dispose of it as he/she/they choose.
    > >
    > > Further, as you also suggest, particularly in the case of public
    libraries, the
    > presence of the book, and its availability for borrowing, is long-term
    free advertising
    > for the author. How many of you have discovered an author for free by
    > your local library and then went out and bought something else by the same
    > How many of you have ever bought a used book by an author, and were so
    > beguiled that you bought the next thing that came out for free?
    > >
    > > Finally, in many cases, the book is no longer in print, so buying it
    used or
    > borrowing it from the library is the only way the book can be made
    available to
    > readers.
    > >
    > > My response to this non-issue is somewhat similar to those who feel we
    don't pay
    > enough taxes. If you truly feel personally guilty about not sending more
    money to
    > the government, make a voluntary donation. Similarly, if you truly feel
    > cheating an author by buying a copy of a book that has already generated
    > for that author, then mail him/her a check for whatever you calculate
    would have
    > been the royalty if you bought it new instead of getting a used copy or
    borrowing it
    > from the library. That, it seems to me, relieve any guilt you may feel
    > effectively than kvetching about what the greater bulk of the reading
    public can only
    > regard as wholly imaginary moral or ethical issues.
    > >
    > > As for myself, I'd rather my books were read by as many people as
    possible, and
    > libraries and used book shops are one form of keeping books widely
    > >
    > >
    > ------------------------------------
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