[Home] [Weblog] [The Bibliothecary] [Driving the Quill] [Library][Bookmarks]

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Chapter Forty-Four, in which a Comment is overheard

At one of the four sales your Bibliothecary attended yesterday, a woman was overheard making the comment, "Someone said people are buying these books and then selling them on eBay," in astonishment and near indignation. I couldn't help but wonder to what she objects.

Perhaps she believes no one should ever part with a book. And yet someone parted with the books she chose to purchase, or they wouldn't have been there. Perhaps she dislikes the profit motive. Yet the potential for profit is what drives the book trade, and there would be no sales like that she was attending if there wasn't a market for the books, and publishers would quickly get out of the business of publishing books if they were not able to sell their products to this woman. Was she merely upset with herself for missing the opportunity then?

Maybe she was concerned for the authors of those books, whose works were being sold without royalties being paid. A noble sentiment; however, anyone familiar with marketing could tell her that a free or inexpensive sample of an agreeable product will often lead consumers to purchase more or similar products. You can see this principle in action every weekend at the sample tables inside your local grocery. If I can try The Infinite Jest for less than a penny a page, and I like it, I will be likely to want to purchase Wallace's next release at full retail, and maybe even buy a new copy of Jest to keep. But if I have to pay thirty dollars up front just to try something I might not find to my liking, I probably won't try it. That makes what this woman may see as a lost royalty actually a potential royalty.

Let us hope this woman is not being selfish. Shame on her if she is only thinking of her own offended values, or the profits of a book seller. She ought to think of the poor, housebound woman in Australia who, having received as a gift and read this week's new release from Nora Roberts, now wants to read her way through this prolific author's entire bibliography, and must hope to find copies available for purchase and delivery through eBay, or Amazon, or www.madaboutbooksonline.com.

Modern Western civilization is built firmly upon the foundation of capitalism, and it is spreading. Is she equally upset with the car dealer who bought a vehicle from General Motors and then sold it to her so she could drive to the book sale? What about the clothing manufacturer who purchased materials and refashioned them into her pretty garments? And doesn't Barnes and Noble do the same thing in their book superstores, purchase books directly from publishers and then resell them to consumers just like this woman?

There are likely some book sellers who simply process a sale, but there are many more who take the book they purchased and research it, clean it, repair it, and protect it, thus turning it into a new product before selling it. From the one Bible whose provenance can be traced back to Gutenberg himself, to the ten millionth copy of Dianetics, the market is the driving force of a book's life. And unless it's the duc de Montausier, no writer produces a book without the intention of taking it to market.

I hope the woman enjoys her purchases and returns next time for more.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for the good content.Here is a resource for Western Books if you or your readers are interested