By Joe Moore
When you buy a book, do you buy new or used? If your favorite author just released a new hard cover, do you snatch it up immediately or wait for the mass market paperback? And in either case, do you buy a used copy or new?
As writers, how should we look at used book sales? I’m not talking about out-of-print books where about the only way to get a copy is on eBay or an Amazon used book vendor. I’m talking about the book you just had published a month ago. Do you look at used book sales as money lost? After all, neither you nor your publisher earns any revenue from used sales.
If you were lucky enough to have a book that sells well, but you started seeing hundreds of used copies for sale on Amazon, eBay and other sources, would you be upset knowing those were royalty-less sales?
Here are some random thoughts in no particular order for and against used book sales.
For: If someone buys a used copy of my book and they like it, they might buy a new copy of my next one when it’s first published.
Against: If my sales were approaching the point where the publisher considered a second (or third) print run, I may never get it because the used sales took the place of the additional run.
For: Used book sellers sometimes hand-sell books that eventually help build a writer’s career.
Against: The biggest used book seller in the world is Amazon and there’s no hand selling going on there.
For: All used books were originally purchased as new so there’s the royalty.
Against: For each new book sold, 5-6 people may read it as a used book equating to lost royalties.
For: Used books help perpetuate my "brand" and name recognition. It gets my name out into the market place to readers who can’t afford the price of new books.
Against: Used books provide the same level of enjoyment to the reader as a new copy but with no return for my efforts.
The argument for and against is a polarizing debate. For every point in favor of used sales, there’s an equally opposed view. What is your feelings on this? Do you get hot under the collar when you see your books being sold used or do you rejoice that your name is getting out there to a new reader? Should we look at used book sales like car manufacturers look at used car sales? Are used book customers a segment of the reading population that probably will never start buying new books? Did you feel different about buying used books before you became a published writer?
Coming up on our Kill Zone Guest Sundays, watch for blogs from Sandra Brown, Steve Berry, Robert Liparulo, Thomas B. Sawyer, Paul Kemprecos, Linda Fairstein, Oline Cogdill, James Scott Bell, and more.