Plot twist: I’m really bad at supporting the book industry.
When you buy used, the only one who benefits (besides yourself, who just acquired an awesome book cheap) is the bookstore. The publisher and the author don’t get anything for a book that was previously sold. Pair that with fewer people reading overall, and pirated books on the Internet (shame on you!), and you can see why publishers everywhere are cutting back and cutting corners.
I can’t offer a solution, because I’m also to blame. “But Angela,” you say, “you have all those books at home! You have a great home library!” Yes, I love owning my books, but I’m also stingy. Why would I pay $21.99 for something I can find on eBay for $5? (And forgive me, Easton Press—I have several of your $80+ books that I didn’t pay more than $30 for. Perhaps I shouldn’t give away that secret, though.)
Let’s count up the most recent additions to my bookshelf: Of the last ten books I’ve acquired, I purchased only three of them at full-price, from an actual bookstore (one of those was with a gift card but that counts, okay?). As for the rest?
Four were work freebies.
Two were through paperbackswap.
One was gifted from the author herself.
This is a bad time to admit that the paperbackswap number is atypically low. But that further proves my point.
Bookstores are closing all around the country. People are skeptical that I have a future in my industry. (I’ve not-so-subtly been asked if I consider switching departments.) I whine that people aren’t reading anymore, but am I doing anything to change this? Or am I just contributing to the statistic? Because we know whining on the Internet is highly effective [end sarcasm].
In short, I need to be better about supporting my industry. I can point the finger all I want, but that would be hypocritical. Because according to the evidence—or at least, what we’ve seen above—I only buy 30% of my literature. I imagine it’s the same for most readers—while they may not have access to the same number of freebies I do, there are other methods. Used book stores, eBay, piracy, borrowing from friends and never returning them. (Your friend is still seething over that, by the way.)
We all have to do better: If we want the industry to thrive and continue cranking out literature, we have to support it. This seems like an obvious solution, but we’re not doing anything to help it.