Mandy's Musings

Ramblings of romance author Madeline Baker/Amanda Ashley

Friday, September 30, 2005

Touchy Subject

On one of the author links I belong to, writers have been talking about ways to make readers aware of the fact that neither the author nor the publisher makes a profit off of used books. Every time someone buys a book from a used book store or from one of the book sites online that sell used books,authors lose money. If you think it's a matter of only a few dollars, an article in last week's L.A. Times stared that sales of used books online jumped 33% in 2004, to just over EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS.

Authors understand that sometimes an old book can’t be found anywhere else, and that there are times when finances simply don’t allow for buying a new book. However, if you buy your used books on line, in many cases, by the time you pay for the used book and the postage, you could almost buy the book new for the same price.

Used books take money away from the author. If you buy a writer’s current book used, not only does she not make any money on that book, but it doesn’t show up on the publisher’s records as a book sold.

The publishing industry is all about one thing - NUMBERS. If an author’s sales fall on Book A, then book buyers won’t buy as many copies of Book B, and so on. If sales drop far enough, that author won’t be writing for that particular publisher much longer. I know this from personal experience. My contract was not renewed with one of my publishers this year because “my numbers were down”.

Right now, things are tough in the publishing industry. Many people believe that all authors are making scads of money, but that just isn’t true. Only a small number of authors make enough money from their writing to live on, and an even smaller number are on the same scale as Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling. A large number of authors hold down full time jobs and write on the side.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should never buy used books. Sometimes a used book store is the only place where you can find a book that’s gone out of print. But if possible, please buy your books new. An author will thank you for it. And that author might be me!

If you want to read more on this subject, go here



Blogger Treespring said...

First of all, let me say that I understand what has been said here, and I sympathise with the 'lost revenues' idea to a point.

One must not overlook the fact that some of the people buying used books are doing so because they simply can't afford the luxury of new ones.

These are not sales an author would've made if used books weren't available. They really shouldn't be seen as 'lost revenues', in my humble opinion.

Mandy, a used book was my introduction to your work. Your work was so enjoyable that I immediately went to Waldenbooks and bought (new!!!) copies of everything you had on their shelves. I've had to replace the worn out used copy I originally bought, so that was a sale for you, too!

My book budget isn't unlimited, so I try to make every dime go towards something I'll read again and again. I must tell you that publicity and cover blurbs have fooled me into buying new books that I've found to be tremendously disappointing. There I am with a depleted book budget, a book I am going to inflict on a charity as a donation, and nothing good to read. blah! Sampling the used books in search of a good writer is my only defense.

If a writer's work appeals to me, I will buy copies of everything they've written. So, please pass this message to all your fellow writers, "USED BOOKS ARE GREAT ADVERTISING FOR YOUR WORK!!!" *grin* All they have to do is write as well as you do, Mandy, and they'll have guaranteed sales for the rest of their writing lives, too!

(My condolences on your lost contract...Shame on them for not working harder to boost sales! *sigh* I suppose it's easier for publishers to blame the writers than to put the blame on themselves, where it belongs!)

8:13 AM  

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