Last week there was a lively debate on the chicklit loop on buying used books and/or swapping used books.
One woman claimed that it was terrible karma to read anything but books that you buy new, if you were an author or wanted to be an author some day.
*sigh of defeat*
On one hand, I definitely agree. I feel guilty buying used, I feel guilty getting freebies, I feel guilty reading through part of a book at Borders, and I feel guilty selling my old books to a secondhand store.
On the other hand, I definitely disagree. (I'm a Libra, give me a break.)
What about those that can't afford to buy as many books as they read? Would you prefer they found a new hobby and STOPPED reading altogether???? Do you really think that would help authors out?
Okay, I agree that authors would benefit the most by everyone buying their book new.
BUT, I can't afford it. I simply cannot afford it. As it is, my very tiny royalties don't even cover a week's worth of reading. I swear to God, I would fill my house to the brim with books if I had the money.
I know I don't make my living solely from writing, so what right do I have to speak? But if anyone told me, "I really want to read your latest story, but I just can't afford it," I'd give it to them for free. If my choice were having them NOT buy my book and NOT reading it, or NOT buy my book AND read it, then I'd choose the latter.
But I still feel guilty.
One woman went so far as to say that she burned her books once she ran out of room, because if she donated books to a shelter, she would buy them new. Burning them? Why can't she just give them away? At least drum up a new fan or two for an author.
Then one woman posted about how she had two children that she was raising, and buying new books was a once in awhile luxury. So authors, would you rather she NOT read because she can't afford it?
There's the library, I'll give you that. A few authors felt it was bad to use the library, a few felt that one should never buy used but one may use the library.
Yes, I think everyone would rather buy shiny new books, but the reality is that if you are an avid reader, it's nearly impossible to buy all the books you want to read. I spend about $40 - 200 a month on books--money I can't afford in the first place--and that doesn't even begin to cover my reading habits for the month.
So I'm very sorry. But I just can't afford any more than that. If I ever sell a book to a "real" publisher, and everyone runs out and buys my book who can afford it, then I'll run out and buy the whole store and then some.
I HAVE read a book at Borders, and later bought it when I had the money because I was so entertained.
After an unlucky week, one author responded to my post by offering to mail me a copy of her book for free. I got tears in my eyes. Hey, I wanted to run out and buy her book just then, but eight clients owe me money and who knows when they'll take the time out of their busy schedules to pay me. (How dare I have the audacity to actually need the money I work my tail off to earn??)
My computer broke, my lawn mower broke, and my piano broke.
And one author offered to mail me her book for free. It was so unexpected and so nice, I didn't know what to do. I can't get the money I earn, and to randomly get a free gift??
I swear, as soon as people pay me, I'm going to buy five copies of her book and give them to people. And then I'm going to buy every book she writes for the rest of her life.
So tell me again ... giving away an old book: is that really such a bad thing?