First off, greetings to all you Bouchercon attendees. Wish I could be there this year, but it didn’t work out. Enjoy and give us the lowdown on the convention when you get back, eh?
Before my Home Crafting Mysteries hit the shelves, before they’re even officially released, there are always a few available on Ebay. I’m not sure where they come from, though I suspect they’re review copies. Not uncorrected Advance Reader Copies, which go to the big reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus and Library Journal earlier in the publishing process, but the final printed products Midnight Ink sends to newspapers and certain online review sites.
Does the availability of used (though I doubt they’re very used) copies of my mysteries prior to their actual release bother me? A little, I’ll admit. But on the other hand, those books are getting into the hands of readers. That’s good.
Sure, I’d like to hit the big bestseller lists and make a gazillion dollars from writing. The IRS would probably like it better than the earnings shown on that return I e-filed recently, too. But that isn’t going to happen – to me or to anyone else – unless there’s buzz. And buzz comes from lots of people reading a book and liking it enough to pass on to their friends or recommend it to perfect strangers via sites like Goodreads and Shelfari and Amazon book reviews. I figure the more people who read my books, the better – no matter how they get them.
Is it a good and moral thing to buy used books? After all, the author receives no money from those purchases. Is it a form of piracy?
Or simply frugality? There are plenty of people who love to read and can’t afford to buy new all the time. I love libraries, but their collections can’t possibly encompass all the good stuff out there. In the current economy, it’s hard to fault readers who are getting their hands on material any way they can.
I do buy used. Not all the time, but sometimes. Books I need for research come to mind first. Plus, the independent bookstores in my town sell both new and used books. I’m more likely to try a new-to-me author at a discount. Then, if I like them, I’ll buy their other books brand-spanking new. And, with a nod to the karma gods, I gladly shell out full price for books written by friends.
Sometimes I pass those books on, however. After all, I know and like a lot of authors. I can’t keep them all on my shelves. Like Deb (see yesterday’s post) I recently purged my office. That meant books had to go, too. So I held a contest on my blog, and this afternoon will haul a big box of paperbacks to the post office. They’ll go to someone who’s truly excited about receiving them. That makes me feel good. My hope is that the winner might discover a new author or three – and might even pass those books on yet again, or recommend a few to others.
How do you feel about used books? Do you buy them? Feel guilty? And what about the trend toward electronic publishing? On one hand it’s harder to hand an electronic book to a friend, yet on the other it might open up a whole new arena for the piracy of intellectual property. Thoughts?