Buying and Selling Words

The Green Apple Core (bookish tidbits as noted in the blog subhead from the folks at Green Apple Bookstore) has a somewhat amusing vid on the buying and selling of used books as compared with digital books. As in, with a physical book, you have something with inherent resale value–I’ve got a few at home that are worth a bit. They’ve a point I hadn’t thought about–mostly, I suspect because while I’ll go hunting for some out of print books, I don’t do a lot of used book selling or buying. But it got me thinking about is it better or worse for an author to have that second, after market sale?

Used bookstores can help an author reach readers who might come across those said out of print books–and hopefully the readers then go looking for newer, in print books. But there’s also the school of thought that says used books eat into an author’s income, as in, that’s a sale stolen away. Either argument also applies to libraries who loan books.

Now, I’m not really sure that used book stores (or libraries) really hurt an author all that much. I’m a library user (not as much as I used to be, but still trained that way as a reader). And I’m a book store junkie. I do pass around authors I like–and I’ll try out new authors from the library, and if I like, I go shopping for my own copy. I like having books around. It would be harder to keep these habits if/when books go digital (much harder to pass around a copy, and digital can make things very hard to find, and very easy to lose). Would the loss of a second/used market work to an author’s advantage?

As in you have to buy a copy? And what about sharing your copy then? When I think of how often I do share, pass along a book (usually with a stern warning that it must be returned), then digital seems to have a big disadvantage — unless you’re talking open source and not DRM. And maybe that’s the key.

Books need to be free to move around as they will. Words often need the same thing.

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