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smilerbabeuk

Second hand books

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Do you buy new or second hand? Do you feel bad buying secondhand? I have a friend who is an author and she thinks you shouldn't be able to buy second hand, but I buy most of mine that way. I couldn't afford to buy new and I like to think I'm being somewhat environmentally friendly as the other option for books that people don't want anymore is to throw them away. The idea of that bothers me!

 

So what do you think? Are you chuffed when you find a book you want for a bargain or do you feel you are somehow cheating?

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I buy new and second hand, I love going round the charity shops looking for books. If it wasn't for charity shops or people selling their used books through play I wouldn't buy as many books as I do.

 

I love finding books that I want for a really good price.

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I do both. I buy new because I want to retain the services of bookshops on the high street. Having lost Borders, I hate to think of my life without going a unique privately owned bookshop or into a Waterstones or WH Smith - not that either is as good as our local Borders was - to absorb all that wonderful literature and maybe stumble upon something new and delicious. There is nothing quite like the feel of a new book that has never seen the light of day (or the eyes of a reader) and the smell of newly printed words.

 

But I also love browsing secondhand shops. Yes, it is great to find a real bargin instead of buying new, but sometimes there is a real gem hidden amongst the rows of shelves - a book you know is now out of print and simply would love to own. Added to that, secondhand books have a history all their own. I often wonder who has owned it before me and what sort of home it had!

 

And let us not forget the libraries. Borrowing books may never be the same as owing a book, but it is such a necessary service to all our communities that if we don't keep using it - we will lose that too!

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Added to that, secondhand books have a history all their own. I often wonder who has owned it before me and what sort of home it had!
One of my life's greatest pleasures that, wondering where a secondhand book has been, who's read it etc.

 

I do both. I buy new if I want something specific and if I want it quickly but I also just love secondhand book shops to see what I can find. The world would be a very dull place indeed if you couldn't get a secondhand book.

 

What does your author friend think people who are on very low incomes and not near a library do for their reading, Smilerbabeuk?

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[quote name=lunababymoonchild

 

What does your author friend think people who are on very low incomes and not near a libraby do for their reading, Smilerbabeuk?[/quote]

 

Second hand books are her absolute pet hate - there is NO excuse for them as far as she is concerned. We have had to agree to disagree on that one or it would be the end of our friendship, she feels that strongly. I do understand her point, and the point of any author, that it is not much to pay for all their hard work. My point is simply that if I couldn't buy second hand (or use the library) I wouldn't be able to read the book at all. It is simply not an option to buy new all the time. I do buy some.

I do find myself somewhat loathe to admit where I got them from, I feel that I will somehow be looked down on. I wonder if i am alone in that?

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While I do like buying shiny new books there are some things that might have ended up "pick it up ... not sure ... put it back ... never think of it again". I wasn't sure if I'd like Sherlock Holmes because I'm not a big crime fiction fan, but felt it was one of those things I should read. I found a complete collection in the local Oxfam book shop which I bought for £1.50 and it turned out to be a revelation. I love Sherlock Holmes tales! I also snapped up a beautiful box set of blue bound poetry collections for £7; an interesting-looking novel for 50p that comes in the "OK" bracket but I did only pay 50p for it; and found an out-of-print copy of John Wyndham's Consider Her Ways and Others which wasn't available anywhere else at the time. At the same time, my money is going to a good cause.

 

I agree that second-hand bookshops and especially libraries are an absolutely necessary resource for those on a limited income. While there is pleasure in a new book, that is secondary gain compared to the pleasure of a good read.

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Second hand books are her absolute pet hate - there is NO excuse for them as far as she is concerned. We have had to agree to disagree on that one or it would be the end of our friendship, she feels that strongly. I do understand her point, and the point of any author, that it is not much to pay for all their hard work. My point is simply that if I couldn't buy second hand (or use the library) I wouldn't be able to read the book at all. It is simply not an option to buy new all the time. I do buy some.

I do find myself somewhat loathe to admit where I got them from, I feel that I will somehow be looked down on. I wonder if i am alone in that?

Wow, I've never heare that before. I understand that authors get a small fee every time their book is borrowed from the library but, as you say, finances - especially in the current climate - dictate that secondhand books are desirable if not necessary. New hardbacks are upwards of twenty pounds, that's an awful lot of money to risk if you've never heard of the author before. Charity books however, are 50 - 75p usually and less of a financial risk. Anyway, it's a way to donate to charity and I give back my books to charity shops so that they can be resold, so it's a win-win situation.

 

ETA cross posted with Diane. And, I'm never shy about where I get my books from, the older and more battered the better imho.

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I never used to buy books second hand until a friend at university dragged me into a charity shop one day, and since then I have not looked back! For my lit course at uni I paid full price for all my coursebooks, textbooks and novels and it cost a fortune. It hardly seems to make sense to spend £7.99 on a throwaway paperback novel when you can buy them so cheaply second hand, and most of the new titles have only been read once and then given to charity.

 

Often I'll go in and buy 10 novels at a time, and line them up on my shelves to read, but they are not novels that I would have bought new. If they weren't less that a pound each then I wouldn't bother at all. Quite often it will introduce me to a new author or genre and I'll spend money buying full price collections or the brand new novel from that author later on.

 

The only novels that I will buy new and full price are those that I think have enough literary value to merit it. For example, I'll always buy Atwood's new novels full price because they are worth the money. Or I'll keep buying repackaged versions of Wuthering Heights because they look so pretty on the shelf! Generally I'll buy classic novels that I feel I should read or bestsellers that people have been talking about second hand, not because I desperately want to read them but because I think I'll check it out and see what all the full is about at some point. It doesn't ever make me feel bad for the authors because at least I'm helping charity this way, and I wouldn't have bought their novel otherwise. Though I do worry about the stability of the book economy with all these bookshops closing down, and even huge chains like Borders disappearing.

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Unless the secondhand book is pristine, or 'as new', I will always buy new books. I like being the first to open and read the book. As for cost, well, I sell any books on that I won't keep so I generally recoup at least half the cost. I do go into charity shops and look at the books but I get tired of seeing the same books: Ian Rankin, Catherine Cookson, Rosamunde Pilcher...

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Wow, that really is a strong view isn't it? And I am surprised, I would have thought an author would be glad that people want to read what they had written.

 

I buy both new and secondhand, and as has previously been said, it can introduce to a new author you wouldn't have paid full price for, and then you go on to buy their other novels as new books.

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Re: how much authors receive as a result of their books being borrowed from libraries, this was mentioned briefly in one of my course lectures a couple of weeks ago.

 

In the UK, authors can receive 6p for every loan of their book up to a maximum of £6,000 i.e. if your book is loaned more than 1,000 times you won't get any further money. The number of loans is calculated on the basis of a survey of a representative sample of libraries rather than on the basis of complete data, which I imagine might penalise a local history author whose library doesn't happen to be included in the survey.

 

The author has to claim the money, they do not receive it automatically and several prominent names don't; J. K. Rowling has never called in a penny, but she for one certainly doesn't need it.

 

Of course, as book lovers here I'm sure we'd all agree this isn't enough recompense for writers' labours, but the book supply chain is being squeezed everywhere: publishers have felt the pinch ever since the abolition of the net book agreement because it is mostly they who lose out every time a book is sold for less than the recommended cover price. My understanding is that the author is typically protected from the worst of this, although post-NBA I suspect their royalty percentages are lower to begin with as publishers strive to protect their cut. Without some form of artificial price control like the NBA there will be a drive to cut costs everywhere and authors, publishers and libraries will feel the pinch.

 

Having said all that, it is also a fact that, even in this electronic age, more books are being printed and published than at any time in history. More people are benefitting from the book business than ever, so it sounds to me as if the trade is in pretty rude health despite us all scuttling off to Oxfam et al for our literary fixes.

 

As regards my own purchasing habits, I buy a mixture, pouncing on new paperbacks by favourite authors even when I know it will take me years to get around to reading them, but back catalogue tends to be from second hand places. I've bought 3 textbooks so far, brand new and the cheapest ones on the reading list: the price of academic books is astounding. This is when the library has come into its own, but in general the book trade has done alright out of me!

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I buy most of my books in charity shops but as my passion for reading has developed over the years there are a number of authors for whom I'm not prepared to wait for a chance charity shop find. A quick glance at my reading list for this year shows that about one third of the books on it were bought new. I suspect that the book trade suffers more from the alarming proportion of the population who never open a book than from book lovers who buy secondhand. A book would always be my first option when it comes to buying gifts - at the last count I have 18 books hidden away for my kids and other family members for Christmas - I reckon this more than compensates for my charity shop sprees through the year.

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I can't quite fathom the "Author"'s objection to second hand buying/selling. Doesn't she realise she has ALREADY BEEN PAID for that copy, either by royalties or advance. Why should she be paid twice? That's like buying a tin of beans, and then all your family having to pay the supermarket some more if they have a portion! At one time, all the second - hand books were bought as new, and the ownership transfered to the buyer to do with as they wish, lend, sell or destroy (heaven forbid)

I have no difficulty buying second hand, indeed most the books I buy new are the result of having discovered authors I like through having read from second-hand/library materail

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Presumably the author's objection to secondhand books is because he/she feels the purchaser might instead have bought the book new - thereby providing more income for the author. In reality however, the purchaser of the secondhand book may never have bought it new!!

 

Authors must realise that if buyers of secondhand books 'find them' as authors there is the likelihood that in the future they may well buy their work when new - hence the secondhand books could be stimulating new sales and not depriving the authors of income!

 

Just a thought. ;)

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And I wonder how many readers have, like me, bought a second-hand book; loved it, then had to buy the rest of that writer's canon new, as they simply couldn't wait to find them in another chazza shop. Yes R J Ellory, I'm talking about you. And you, Lee Child; Sophie Hannah; Peter Robinson; C J Sansom...

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I can't quite fathom the "Author"'s objection to second hand buying/selling. Doesn't she realise she has ALREADY BEEN PAID for that copy, either by royalties or advance. Why should she be paid twice? That's like buying a tin of beans, and then all your family having to pay the supermarket some more if they have a portion! At one time, all the second - hand books were bought as new, and the ownership transfered to the buyer to do with as they wish, lend, sell or destroy (heaven forbid)

 

I suppose what she means is that she would have sold one copy to the original owner, and then if the 2nd hand market didn't exists the second owner would have to have bought new, thereby giving her a second royalty.

 

I have to agree with you though!

 

Edit: Oohps! Just read the rest of the thread and see someone else beat me to it with the counter view. Sorry! :D

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And I wonder how many readers have, like me, bought a second-hand book; loved it, then had to buy the rest of that writer's canon.
Ditto. Lindsey Davis, Sue Grafton, Ernest Hemingway (although I don't think he cares about second hand sales), Patrick O'Brian, Wilbur Smith...

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This thread reminds me of a conversation that I once had with a renown furniture maker. He was talking about forthcoming ruling one whether an artist should get a cut of the profits when someone resold their work. So if Damon Hirst had sold his manky shark-in-a-box for, say, £10.50 originally, then a canny purchaser had resold the work for, say, £100,000, Mr Hirst would get x% of the profit because he was responsible for the original work. You have to think that it would only be fair, why should the owner get the profit just for getting in early?

 

Not sure that this adds much to the debate, but I do tend to think that no-one becomes a writer to make a fortune and it doesn't do any good to worry over this stuff like smilebabyuk's friend seems to do.

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I just hope the complaining author in question never borrows anything to do those 'one-off' jobs.

Knitting pattern, extra long ladder, leaf blower, preserving pan, hot air paint stripper - they all should be bought new, if the second-hand book analogy is to be taken seriously, otherwise the manufacturer is being deprived of income.

 

I guess this same author is a fervent supporter of e-books - isn't one of the features of downloading that you can't lend or give away the books when you have read them?

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This thread reminds me of a conversation that I once had with a renown furniture maker. He was talking about forthcoming ruling one whether an artist should get a cut of the profits when someone resold their work. So if Damon Hirst had sold his manky shark-in-a-box for, say, £10.50 originally, then a canny purchaser had resold the work for, say, £100,000, Mr Hirst would get x% of the profit because he was responsible for the original work. You have to think that it would only be fair, why should the owner get the profit just for getting in early?

 

Not sure that this adds much to the debate, but I do tend to think that no-one becomes a writer to make a fortune and it doesn't do any good to worry over this stuff like smilebabyuk's friend seems to do.

 

Something similar to this happens with young footballers - I am dredging my mind to uni but if I remember correctly the idea is that for each football club that has owned a player that them moves to another club before reaching the magic age of 21 (or was it 25?) the original club who taught, trained and invested in the young player gets part of the fee. It's all about the nurturing of the talent and I don't think it would work for authors unfortunately.

 

I have found authors from bookshops and libraries - Atwood springs to mind, and Jasper Fforde, Freya North, Simon Brett, Helen Cresswell (as a child), Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb. So many of my literary friends! I think that in each case I have then bought new copies. In some instances (Kevin Sampson & Jasper Fforde especially) I have bought a new copy to sit in perfect condition on my shelf and carried on reading the second-hand copy which becomes lovingly tatty and full of my love.

 

I like to wonder where books have been before me, but I also feel sad for them as they've been abandoned by someone who didn't enjoy it as much as I hope I will. I get a bit cross (but not really) when I see an author/book that I loved in a secondhand bookshop as if it's some kind of personal slight!

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I guess this same author is a fervent supporter of e-books - isn't one of the features of downloading that you can't lend or give away the books when you have read them?
It was; until Amazon saw the light. I'm not sure if it has started yet but they are going to allow Kindle users to lend their books to other Kindle users. I understand the books can be lent for a limited time and cannot be read by the owner until the book is "returned".

 

ETA. But publishers will be able to opt out...

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I haven't asked my author friend her opinion on lending books to friends, we have had two discussions on the topic that both got quite heated so I don't go there any more. Personally, I suspect its slightly sour grapes because she'd love to be a full time author but she has so far not been successful enough.

I buy the vast majority second hand, or use the library. I do buy lots of books as gifts though.

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It was; until Amazon saw the light. I'm not sure if it has started yet but they are going to allow Kindle users to lend their books to other Kindle users. I understand the books can be lent for a limited time and cannot be read by the owner until the book is "returned".

 

ETA. But publishers will be able to opt out...

I read somewhere - and can't remember where - that there is at least one library who has figured out how to lend ebooks and then have them delete themselves after one month. Which is scary if you ask me.

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