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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sad, but is it true? What's a reader to do?

Week in Review

Bargain Hunting for Books, and Feeling Sheepish About It
Published: December 28, 2008

Book publishers and booksellers are faltering. But don’t blame the recession — it’s all the fault of the Internet used books market. WHAT?!?

To read the rest of this column go HERE

And please post a comment. I want to know what you think about this. Peace!


Toyhabilitation said...

Used books have never made money for retail booksellers, authors and publishers. The used book market has always existed for print books, and always will. With the advent of electronic publishing, there are other avenues of income for authors and publishers, at least. Authors can include a link to their web sites in the book's blurb, packaged with a special offer for unpublished "extras" (additional chapters, worksheets, computer wallpapers and screensavers, etc) when the buyer emails them a copy of their receipt for the new book. Publishers can issue electronic text versions of books that expire or that cannot be downloaded more than once. (Some textbook publishers already issue e-texts that expire in 3 to 4 months, about the length of a school semester, so the buyer cannot resell the text to another student). Print books can be packaged with CDRoms or user passcodes that can only be accessed once to download additional electronic materials from the author or publisher web sites. All these techniques can boost new-book sales even when used copies cost less. In a recessionary market, they can diminish income erosion (at least for publishers & authors) resulting from consumer preference for used/discounted books. Brick-and-mortar bookstores can use author book signings and events to lure buyers into their stores. Free gift wrapping lures many buyers into one local bookstore I know of, every Christmas season. It is not necessary to make buyers feel guilty about purchasing used books. If retailers cannot be competitive using the same business models they have used in the past, then they need to catch up with the electronic age and change their business models & strategies. The book business is extremely conservative and old-fashioned. I work in purchasing for a retailer and I actually still deal with some vendors who don't have a clue about electronic book purchasing systems, still print and snail-mail invoices, etc. It is pretty pathetic.

lovedandamazed said...

Hmmm... that's an interesting take on the matter. To be honest, I rarely buy new books because there just isn't room in my budget except as gifts at Christmas or birthdays. Rarely do I want to read something so badly that I can't wait until my library gets it (sometimes just a week after the release date) or wishlist it and hope to receive it as a gift for myself or until it becomes available on PaperBackSwap. PBS works great for me and I don't think there is any guilt in trading books with other readers, nor in sharing books through online giveaways, which I have done on both the giving and receiving end.

As for the moral legitimacy of used book stores, I don't really have an opinion. I think I would agree with the author in the article who was happier to have gained a reader than to have missed a sale. Should there be some royalty compensation for selling used books? Perhaps. I wouldn't argue against it.

Martha A. said...

Well, i personally would not be able to read if there was not libraries and used books, i rarely am able to afford a book new and at the prices they charge for new books, I am not surprised they are struggling. i order for a small bookstore that is not for profit, but if it was something we had to do for a living, we would be sunk!
I would too agree with the author that i would rather have people reading it, than it ending up in the landfill because they want people to buy new.

Donald James Parker said...

I'm afraid this is not exactly earth shaking news. I have noticed that I can buy a book by almost any Christian author for less than a buck. I don't buy a lot of secular ones - but some of those are in the same boat. I want to help out my friends by buying their books new, but I have too many writing friends to do that. In my own case I write books that are intended for people's spiritual development - not for me to make my fortune. That is the reason I give me ebooks away. If people don't read my books, then my impact on their lives will be zero. I'd be perfectly happy to sell one book and have that buyer pass it along a thousand readers. Not many writers are into it for what they can give instead of what they can get, however. Looks like market conditions may separate the wheat from the chaff.
Donald James Parker
Author of All the Stillness of the Wind

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