April 17th, 2012, 07:58 PM
Heritage, Not Hate
Buying Used books - Any guilt involved? Any authors here want to chime in?
I have always wanted to ask an author, in private and not in public, about this.
Following a revelation about how rotten it really is to rip off DVDs, music, books, and computer games, I have suffered from a guilt associated with my desire to buy used books.
I am not talking used, signed copies of books. That's on my "if I ever make it big" list. I am talking about buying a used book because I am broke.
What are Author's opinions on this? Anyone here published want to chime in - even anonymously? Anyone else have thoughts on it.
I feel guilty about jipping the author out of cash by buying a used copy - unless the author is dead. In that case, all guilt goes out of the window. But if the author is still alive I have guilt. Even if he is madly successful. In the same breath, I don't think ill of anyone else who buys used books.
Ugh. Decisions.... =)
Ya'll's (yea, it's a word... not sure about the 2nd apostrophe though....) thought's? ;-)
April 18th, 2012, 03:23 AM
In the words of Neil Gaiman:
Most authors, I assume, wouldn't mind too much as that copy has been bought at one point, i.e. they've been paid for it. But if you want to offset the guilt a little, talk about the book, discuss it, make people a bit more aware of it. If one more person buys the book because of you, you've offset the loss.
“[D]on't ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that's what they're there for. Use your library). Don't apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend's copy. What's important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read... ”
But at the same time, used bookshops (or charity shops) are great tools, and if you have a local one you should support it, because they often sell books. You might buy book one used, and buy the next ones new, or they might turn you on to an author, yadda yadda. As far as I'm aware, authors would generally want you to buy in the manner which benefits you most. They won't kill you if you buy the MMPB of a book, they won't get annoyed if you buy the Kindle edition on sale, they just want you to read it, so buy in the manner best suited for yourself.
Buying used books doesn't hurt anyone. It doesn't benefit the author directly and financially with that sale, but if you use things like Goodreads or sites like this, you can help the author gain sales.
That said, I would say buy new if you can. The difference, with things like Amazon and The Book Depository around, is usually little more than a few dollars or pounds.
April 18th, 2012, 08:20 AM
It's hard to feel any guilt in this economy. Books (and bookstores for that matter) new or used are a fast disappearing commodity. I order the majority of my books online these days and most of those are used, mainly because they are out of print and I can't find them new anywhere. Pretty soon I'll be reduced to buying a Nook or a Kindle or reading off of my computer and books will be a mythical thing that I can describe to my grandchildren gathered around a warm fire on a cold winter's night.
April 19th, 2012, 07:33 AM
Heritage, Not Hate
It was me trying to get an out of print book (Peter Hamilton's Misspent Youth) that caused me to write this thread. Its out of print and I thought about how I am reluctant to buy used books because of the guilt. I know authors are not rich. Hell, today even people taking in a windfall like in a hollywood movie or a video game is not a guarantee of money. Suppose you get $250k for a book - which is unheard of unless you are a big name author. That will only last about 3 years unless you are frugal and then it will only last maybe 5. If you are REALLY frugal, it will last 8.
Originally Posted by DDCOrange
And I have noticed that a lot of the older books are ebook only. But I am NOT buying an ereader that will just fry one day. I need and want the semipermance of books in the library. However it may be a necessity as there are lots of out of print books I want.
Well placed, well thought out comment, sir.
April 19th, 2012, 08:25 AM
If a book is out of print, go for it. It's the only way you'll get it.
But I would say be careful of buying used, because you don't want to pay too much. Books are getting reissued quite frequently now, and with the prevalence of the internet and stuff it's easy to just fire off an e-mail to the publisher or author to see if it's going to come out again, or even to see if it's in print in a different country (e.g. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. who's no longer in print in the UK but is in the US).
Last thing you want to do is spend £10 on a used book only for a reprint to surface six months later for £6 online.
April 19th, 2012, 12:30 PM
I feel no guilt about buying second hand books, in fact I very rarely buy new. I just can't afford them for one thing, and most of the authors I'm interested in reading hardly ever got reprinted, or are so out of fashion you couldn't buy their books new even if you wanted to.
There has been a trade in second hand books since even before books took the form we recognise now. I don't think any author has ever not been aware that copies of his books will change hands, be given away, lost, loaned, and stolen.
Copied is another matter entirely. Buying illegally made and unlicensed copies of books might make me feel guilty.
Though how would I know? James White didn't know about one 1961 edition of his book The Secret Visitors until he found a copy in a remaindered book bin in Woolworth's
April 19th, 2012, 06:03 PM
If a book is a recent release I'll pretty much always go for that new version. But with older books, rarer books, or in some cases with books which already own but love so much I want older and more unusual editions, I enjoy the second-hand option. Pre-owned books can have a magic all of their own. A couple of years ago I bought a copy of "Othello" during a visit to a small town in the hills, because the flyleaf has a handwritten note (in the beautiful handwriting of a bygone age) which reads
a keepsake of a wonderful evening -
I shall be thinking of you, and longing for my next visit home -
RAF Hornchurch April 1940".
Did they ever meet again? Did they both survive the war? To hold a piece of someone's history like this is very special to me. In fact, it occurs to me as I write that the only guilt I feel is in not re-selling these books, and passing them on to interact with new lives.
This fits very neatly with a rant I posted recently about why I loathe Kindles and similar abominations. No-one will ever experience that dizzying connection across lifetimes to people long gone, in the midst of great events, by buying a used e-book; they are dead things. Real books live, and they live on after us.
April 19th, 2012, 07:06 PM
Yes! I love finding things in old books. I once found a letter in Swedish dated 1944. On-line friends translated it for me:
Originally Posted by kged
April 19th, 2012, 07:09 PM
I like to get hard back copies of books I liked and read the paper back (or library). I can not pass a used book store by. I just like to browse. Esp. since there are so few new book stores around.
Last edited by cgw; May 20th, 2012 at 07:23 AM.
May 19th, 2012, 01:46 AM
The internet killed the magic of bookshops for me. The week by week hunt seems pointless to me when you can do your browsing online. I still remembered it though when I got Bookmarked published on The Harrow.
Originally Posted by cgw
I am glad that you has not lost it so I wish you all the best indulging a pleasure I no longer have.
I have no qualms about buying second hand books if the quality is as good as a new one. In additon, our library does not charge if we order books on line, which I frequently do. The author has already been paid so I am not stealing their work.
May 19th, 2012, 04:47 AM
A chuffing heffalump
Never, even in the the most guilt ridden depths of my mind, has it ever occurred to me to feel guilty about buying a second hand book. As JM said, I'd feel differently if it was a copy. The only reason that all of my recent purchases are new, is because finding a good second had book shop is difficult nowadays and the price difference old to new is far less than it used to be.
May 22nd, 2012, 11:12 PM
I think used books are no big deal. If I'm ever printed on real paper I wouldn't mind if someone went out of their way, even a little, to get a used copy of something I wrote. It's like being a teddy bear maker, you sell each one of them with the hope that some little kid loves it, and you don't care if it gets passed down.
The game changes with e-books. You can't buy a used copy of an e-book (unless you buy someone's used Nook, or computer or something). Second hand e-books are all copies, and there can be hundreds, or thousands, and I'm stuck with $1.99. That gets scary.
May 23rd, 2012, 03:09 AM
Oh, The magic is still there, Michael B. The trick is to have no money to buy from dealers on Abebooks, or wherever. I'm broke. Five of us are living on the wages of my wife's part time job. I mean broke and I'm a book addict. Last weekend I spotted a booksale in a church. Five books for a pound. I was in heaven. I spent a fiver.
Originally Posted by Michael B
Last edited by JunkMonkey; May 23rd, 2012 at 07:53 AM.
May 23rd, 2012, 06:18 AM
Library used books sales are common around here. I go to often to the local sales. At the very least I like to support the libraries. The best thing is to walk out with a few books I have been looking for. I will donate books to them also. About an hour or so away there is an semi-annual sale that is a combined sale for that county. Not only is it huge, but (and this is the best part) they arrange the books in alphabetical order.
May 23rd, 2012, 10:24 AM
my favourite place for book hunting is in a house-clearence place a couple of hours drive from me. They don't sort the books at all; just stack them up against a wall. Thousands of them. A couple of times a years I drive over and go through the whole lot one by one and move them all a few inches to the left. Takes me a couple of hours. I bought 60 books the last time.