Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Books, Books, Books

Last week was the annual used book sale run by the American Association of University Women. Wait—let me rephrase that: Last week was the “There’s THOUSANDS of Books In There—Lemme At ’Em” sale. I picture Betty and Wilma from the Flintstones TV show waving their stone credit cards in the air and giving the call to arms: “Charge it!” Barney and Fred used to cringe, but my husband knew I’d spend about $50 and come home with about 50 books.

I was close. Two days, $56, 57 books.

I’ve heard some writers complain about used book sales because they don’t get royalties on those sales. Yet I’ve picked up books by at least a dozen authors that were unknown to me, and because of that one used book I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money at Barnes & Noble on the rest of that author’s works. I’m also a lifelong library user, which is a reader’s lifesaver when funds are short, or you’re laid off. The same holds true: I’ve read a new author there and headed to B&N for the complete set later.

I took an informal poll of fellow published and unpublished writers when discussing this sale. With a handful of exceptions, they all were in favor of buying used books. Partially because most writers aren’t rolling in dough, but also for the reasons above. We all look forward to the day when a total stranger picks up our first book for a dollar and then sends fan mail through our website. And then (of course) rushes to their bookstore of choice to buy everything else we’ve written.

Have you haunted the used bookstores in your budget-crunching past (or present)? What memorable old and new gems did you find?

For me, the first was Lin Carter’s The Man Who Loved Mars. I’m not usually a SF reader, but I was looking for schlock horror to read on vacation. Something about this book caught my eye and I discovered one of the best wounded heroes ever. My modern discovery was Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Say no more.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alice, I am definitely on the same page as you when it comes to used books and borrowing from the libary. Bravo for saying it out loud. I've gotten dozens of e-mails from people who have done just what you've said - gotten one of my books for free, or close thereto, and then gone out and bought the rest.

It makes me NUTS when authors complain about losing royalties over a stinking used or borrowed book. They are being very short-sighted. Not to mention insensitive. For some folks, paying $14 for a book is a real hardship.

Lisa Bork said...

A book doesn't do any good to anyone just sitting on a shelf. I'm all for libraries and used books--and READING.

Darrell James said...

Alice- You are so right-on! If we wrote only for the money it would be some of the hardest work we could do. Having someone (anyone) (everyone)read our work, whether from a library, a bookshelf, or a garage sale, is the greatest honor of all. I, for one, write, first and foremost, to be read.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love used book stores! After all, I've been paid for the book sale once...why not let someone else enjoy it and maybe get a new reader in the process?

Kathleen Ernst said...

My parents introduced me to used book sales when I was a kid. Money was very tight at our house, but once a year I'd come home from the Smith College sale with grocery bags full of books. Some of those still sit on my shelves, treasures I'll never discard.

I feel the same way about the freebies that come in book bags at conferences. I've found a number of authors that way, and once I'm a fan, I'm on the lookout for their next book.

Maribeth said...

When I'm trying a new to me author I head first to the library or used book sale, especially if it's not a favorite genre.
With the more recent authors this has led to the purchase of an extensive TBR pile.
In my family we pass the books around and then donate to the school sale.Think of it this way -- the authors we read last year helped buy new playground equipment. Wasn't that nice of them? LOL

Giggles and Guns

G.M. Malliet said...

If I really like a book I'll buy a clean copy of the beat-up copy I might have found at a book sale. Or I'll buy another book by the same author. I can't give you examples but I'm sure I've found new authors via used book sales.

Alice Loweecey said...

Used Book Sale readers unite!

I donate the ones I don't want to keep to my local library. Hopefully someone else will read a new author and follow our path of buying their books as well.

I've said for years that I'll feel I've "arrived" when I see a total stranger reading--and liking--my book.

Thanks, gang.

Shel said...

Bless y'all! I've stopped mentioning that I got a book from the library, or that I picked it up used, because I'm scared of getting bashed by an author who didn't get royalties on that sale. I know of a lady who got a very surly email from an author on Goodreads after she mentioned in a discussion thread that she was on the library's waiting list for that author's new book. I do exactly what y'all said, too - find a new author from the library or a used bookstore and then go out and buy the rest of their works.