Monday, July 27, 2009

Used Bookstores

I love used bookstores. Well-run, well-organized - it's like walking into someone's extended keeper shelf. There's one in the Milwaukee airport (I know brilliant, right? There are small magazine vendors in the gates, but not a bookstore and this one is in the main lobby, so if you're waiting for someone you can find a book. ) And there's one in Florida where I vacation with friends, that literally every year sends me into fits of book love. I've found City of Thieves (AMAZING BOOK)! The Shadow of the Wind (OH!!! The nights I've stayed up too late!) The Birth of Venus (delight, start to finish). All by authors whose next books I will buy - because I am in love with them.

I know a lot of writers think that used bookstores are robbing them of royalties, and in way - they're right. But I've been thinking a lot about Sherry Thomas' comment that what sells books is love. People have to love your book to talk about it to their friends, on-line, in the grocery store, over dinner - everywhere they can. And the only thing that builds love is actually reading the book. And that's where used bookstores come in. People take bigger risks on books and authors they've never heard of, when the price tag is in half.

So, yes, no royalties on that second sale. But if you think of those bookmarks everyone makes, or the postcard mailings to bookstores and booksellers - and the end result isn't known. Do the postcards get tossed in the trash? Do they make it to readers? Do the readers care? That feels to me so often like money tossed away. But getting books into hands of readers - how can that be bad?

That said - Internet piracy sites. The scum of the very earth - all they do is ensure that good books and good authors don't get published. It's stealing and there's no love there.


Eileen said...

A friend asked me recently whether I would rather have someone buy my book in a used book store or check it out from a library. I opted for the library in the end because it is a bona fide sale, but I do think used book stores provide a great opportunity to get our work in front of new readers. I know I miss the used book store here where I live. It closed last year.

Heidi Yantzi said...

I agree, because I've bought so many books second hand. I would feel pangs of guilt, but as compensation, I tell everybody about the book that I LOVE. I think it's true- love is what sells books!

I also agree about internet piracy, because that's all about greed and hoarding. No love.

Good post!

Sinead M said...

If I buy a book I love, I'll buy the other books that author has released, so used book stores do have a solid purpose.
I love the way bookstores smell, just looking at the spines of books.

M. said...

I'm with you, Molly - used bookstores are fab.

Non-sequitur: do I understand correctly that TWO trw authors will be published in the time travel book it?!?!

Maureen McGowan said...

Two that I know of, M.

Michelle Maddox even landed her name on the cover!

Simone said...

I find the idea that used bookstores are somehow offensive to writers strange and a little insulting.

The books were bought in the first place, not stolen. Unlike pirates.

So if I sell my bike, should I have to send money to Raleigh? If I have a garage sale, am I somehow "cheating" the toaster company and all the clothing companies and the baby toy companies and the furniture companies?

People sell their stuff all the time. Name me one writer who has never bought a used item in their life.

Writers can be awfully oversensitive sometimes.

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