Finding the silver lining in used book sales
The idea of reselling used books is understandably troublesome for some authors. You work hard on your book and take it to market with the goal of getting it into as many hands as possible, but you want individuals to purchase new copies – legally. You copyright your book to protect it from theft. And then, in spite of all your best efforts, you see used copies on Amazon, in thrift shops, on the shelves at used bookstores. Even books in libraries offer multiple readings of one book, rather than each reader making a separate purchase.
One way to view these resold books is with gratitude that more people are reading your book and hearing your message. The reselling of books gives them new life. I’d sure rather my book went to a new person than languishing in the back corner of the original buyer’s bookshelf or, worse, winding up in a landfill somewhere. I always think back to Seth Godin’s admonition that an author must give away 5,000 books before their book will ever really take off.
Another way to view the sharing of books is by making a comparison to radio. Have you ever listened to a song on the radio and then gone out and bought the album, cassette, CD, or MP3? Of course you have – that’s why artists put their music on terrestrial and Internet radio. It’s not out of the generosity of their hearts – it’s for the exposure.
In my experience, buying secondhand books is not much different. For one thing, I often am introduced to books through used sources that I would never otherwise have known about or thought to buy. Secondly, with the introduction to these unfamiliar authors, on more than one occasion, I have sought out – and purchased – new copies of these authors’ other works.
Whether you view reselling as a blessing or a curse is totally up to you.
For those who appreciate a good used book sale, one of the biggest in the country is coming up this weekend in Phoenix. The VNSA Charity Book Sale will hold its 56th event at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix. Bibliophiles from all over the country visit this sale – and it even has international patrons!
All books are donated by the public, and the sale is run entirely by an incredibly well-organized staff of volunteers. I just learned that VNSA does not carry books over from one year’s sale to the next, with the exception of specific rare books. Leftover books are sold or donated to nonprofit groups who make arrangements with VNSA months in advance of the sale.
This marks the 25th year with the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County as the sale’s beneficiaries. Since its inception in 1957, VNSA has donated more than $6 million to nonprofit human service agencies in the Phoenix area. Kudos to them!
Hours of the 2012 sale are: Saturday, Feb 11, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday, Feb 12, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Shipping is available both days, and admission is free, although the fairground charges a fee for parking.
Categories for this year’s sale include:
Maybe I’ll see you at the sale!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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