Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A book is a book is a book . . . Right?

Apologies for the VERY late post. I think I was stupefied by Lori's amazing post, and repressed the fact that I had to follow her today.

Last week, Tavy and I went to the Friends of the Library Book Sale. For $13.20 we got a huge bag of books. A lot of hard to find YA, some picture books, and of course, a ton of romance. As I added to my TBR pile at home, I started to feel a little guilty. I don't BUY books. I mean, I buy books, but I don't BUY brand new books very often.

Most of my books come from:
  • Packages from my mother. My mother is a librarian, and she regularly raids the discards and donations for me.
  • The library,. Now that I'm getting out of the house again, I'm back on a steady diet of 5-8 library books a week. Tasty. I've started showing Tavy board books and letting her "pick," so that she too knows the excitement of a library book.
  • Friends of the Library Bookstore. I love supporting them, and I buy around 10 books a month here, and usually donate around the same amount.
  • Friends/Freebies/Book Swaps. I get books from give-aways, our chapter book swaps, trading with friends, and other freebies.
  • I feel guilty even admitting this to a group of writers, but when the above fails, I usually turn to Half to find what I want, cheaply.
  • Amazon. Ditto Amazon. One of my writing gigs pays me in Amazon dollars, but I always try to find stuff in the bargain bins.
  • Borders. I pay full price for about 10-15 books a year, and usually at least half of them are people I know through RWA. The other half are usually self-help/non-fiction/gifts/impulse.
Whew. I feel better just admitting that, but I feel horrid that out of around 250 books I read each year, less than a 1/10 result in any money back to the authors. I should be drummed out of RWA for this! I know from reading RWR letters that many authors HATE the idea of used book sales, and shudder at the mere mention of evil, evil Ebay. (Of course, these same ladies can often be seen with wheelie bags in the free rooms at Nationals, but I digress).

And lately, I've been contemplating joining Paperback Swappers, because I'd like to read more by some hard-to-find authors, and I'd like to stop using so much. While amazing for cheap readers like me, I can see how authors would hate Swappers and other sites like that. Because, of course, what you WANT to have happen is Reader A loves your book, recommends it to Person B, who runs right out and buys it (full price), who tells Person C, and Ta Da! NYT Bestseller.

Perhaps I should do even more book reviews on my blog to balance things out? Should I avoid Swappers out of solidarity to my fellow authors? Where do you get YOUR books? Has your views on used books changed since joining RWA? Are there certain authors whose books you try to get at full price? Any other thoughts on used books?


Alice Sharpe said...

Wavy, LOL, I, too, fight these same demons. Entertaining blog as always.

I use Amazon, two libraries and occasionally Costco or Borders. I did buy the YA, Twilight, at Borders for full price (paperback) this weekend and it almost hurt .. I kept thinking this author needs more money like I need a hole in the head and why didn't I try the library first? Impulse.

As a writer, I love seeing my books on library shelves or even better, looking in a card catalogue or computer inventory and seeing the book is checked out. Wow. That is a truly wonderful feeling!

I am not driven by money, I guess, either that or the NYT bestseller list seems like a trip to the moon in a rocket-ship while I'm riding around on a two wheeler. I love the library, I love the idea of swapping books, I reread old favorites -- who says I have to buy them? No one has to buy mine. I mentioned over the weekend I got a letter from a woman in California who loved Avenging Angel and said she was going to go look for my other books. I assume she'll find them on Amazon or maybe in a library -- it never occurred to me she'd try to buy them new -- why would she when she can get a used copy for a quarter? It's okay with me.

And again -- to me a library is about the best thing mankind ever came up with. That and BBQ potato chips.

I am not going to tattle on you to RWA if you won't tattle on me....

Karen Duvall said...

I don't read much any more, only because of time constraints. I want to read more, but since I can't, I make up for it by buying all my books brand spanking new. Call it penance. But if I read as much as you do, Wavy, I'd most certainly buy used books. You'd go broke buying new all the time!

Used books are a great way for readers to get an author's backlist. When I discover an author I really love, I look for every book he or she has written. Sometimes used ones are the only ones available.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

good post, Wavy :)

Okay, I will be honest and admit that BEFORE I was writing for publication, I bought a lot of books at the used bookstore. And I do head there stll if I'm looking for an author's backlist. But generally I buy new now. For the reasons you listed - I see the whole business side of the business now and understand that authors make pennies on their books...and nothing from used sales. Of course, I don't read nearly as many books as you do, Wavy - maybe one or two a month now that I'm writing so much - so if I were reading 250 a year like you I may have a completely different answer.

wavybrains said...

Were I writing more, I'd probably read less, but even when I was working on NanoWriMo pace, I still read. It's my addiction :)

Genene Valleau said...

Glad you read so many books per year. That's awesome!

I hadn't thought much about the new vs used issue. I love to buy signed books at booksignings but also have a ball at used books stores, especially for reference books. I also buy new books at discount prices from the bargain shelves/bins at book stores. (Again, mostly reference books.) And of course there are the freebies at conferences. I've also been know to cruise the shelves of new books looking for new authors whose books look interesting or releases from favorite authors.

Maybe I should pay more attention to my book sources! But don't beat yourself up because you read so many books and are frugal with the money you spend on them. And how do we put a price on passing a love of reading on to a child? Perhaps instead authors should be better compensated for their work -- but that's a whole 'nother topic!

Paty Jager said...

HI WAvy, I'm late tooo! Only a whole day late. LOL Took my daughter and her three kids to Newburg so she could do fittings on the wedding dress she's making for her cousin. Needless to say we were gone all day and I had a ton of e-mails to handle before getting here.

I know we should buy new books to support our fellow writers, and I don't read nearly as many books a year as you do-(you are amazing) But I get all my reasearch books either at the library or Amazon as used books. Romance books, I get at goodwill or purchase new, depending on which spot I can find the authors I'm looking for.

I feel bad when people want to but my books. I've gotten to where now if they but them from me, I sell them for a couple dollars less than the retail. So in short I am undermining myself.

Wavy, I don't think anyone would fault you for not purchasing books new. You read way to many and would go broke if you bought all of them at new price.

Lori Barber said...

Wavy, Oh my, your lavish compliment has me blushing. Thank you.

I am not a shopper and I'm tight fisted with money. When I do buy something I head for the sale areas. Books I purchase new are most often for gifts. I borrow books from my mother, friends, church and Salem libraries. I'm not a saver or collector and I keep very few books.

With this said, I do wrestle the guilt factor of seldom supporting the hard working writers.