Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Second Hand Books
Over the past few days I've been trying to sort out my books. After my first husband died back in 1997, I developed a bit of a book buying obsession. I went into overdrive when home educating the children, buying all kinds of reference books and fiction for them, as well as myself. As a result, our house is bursting at the seams with books, many of which have never even been read. My tastes have changed over the years and I know I'll just never read some of them. There are also the impulse buys; those books which I thought would either come in handy or someone else had recommended, but to be truthful weren't really my thing. Yes, I did buy books for the sake of it! So, I decided to list a great many of them on readitswapit. I don't know whether you've come across this website, but it's very user-friendly. You list the books you no longer want, then you search through a huge library of other members' books to see which ones you'd like to swap with. The site is free, and you simply pay postage on the book you send. I want to build up a little crime fiction library, as I feel this is the genre my novel is leaning towards. I've also enjoyed reading crime fiction and want to study the genre in more detail. Readitswapit is ideal for my purposes.
I've also listed a stack of books about how to teach your children at home on Amazon Marketplace this morning. It's much easier than taking the books to the second-hand bookshop. If, after a few weeks, I'm still left with the books I listed either on readitswapit or Amazon Marketplace, then I'll take them to the charity shop.
I made the mistake of mentioning the above in a post on a writers' forum recently. Didn't it open up a can of worms? One writer was very put out. She pointed out to me that I'm doing writers a disservice by getting rid of my unwanted books in this way. She said that she never gives books away or sells them second-hand. Instead, if she doesn't want them, she tears them up and puts them in the recycling. Why? Because that way other people will be forced to go out and buy new books, and that way the authors will receive the royalties. Authors receive no royalties from second-hand books. She also said we should use libraries rather than buy second-hand because at least then the authors receive a token payment from PLR. She said she resents second-hand booksellers and charities benefitting from book sales when the money should be going to the authors.
Mmm.. interesting. So should Ford be paid money when we sell on a Mondeo second-hand to the local car dealer or to someone answering our ad in Exchange and Mart?
I want to make it clear that I will always buy brand new books. I love browsing in bookshops and love the feel, smell and the very newness of new books. It doesn't get any better on the book front, as far as I'm concerned. I'm very particular about the state of the books I read. If they're battered or the spine heavily creased, then I don't want to know. That's why I'm not keen on library books. You don't know where they've been, do you? I hate it when you find cigarette ash in the pages or bits of orange. At least on readitswapit the owner can describe the condition of the book. I always go for the books described as 'like new' or 'excellent'. They're usually pretty clean. I'm confident that the books I pass on to others are clean and in excellent condition (I always use bookmarks). One lady recently enclosed a brand new bookmark with the book she sent me via readitswapit and a lovely personalised card.
Relatives and friends know how much I love books and reading, so either buy me books as presents or book tokens. I also collect Persephone books and wouldn't part with those, always buying new.
So, it's over to you. What do you think about the whole second-hand book debacle? Do you agree with writer on the forum? I must add that the whole debate then ventured into the territory of writing for pleasure or profit. I was told I was bonkers for thinking writers write purely for the love of writing. We've had an interesting debate on this on the QWF Forum (yes, it's still running, even though the magazine is now out of my hands). The general concensus is that we write because we love it, not because there's money in it, because often there isn't.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your views. Just off for a long run to blow away the cobwebs.
Posted by Jo at 02:30