Authors who are "Differently Expertised"...

Authors who are "Differently Expertised"...

14 June 2010

Used Books

Gecko Gals Ink had four of our sassy authors at our first official group signing at Mostly Books, one of the awesome Indy Bookstores still thriving in Tucson. It was a beautiful day made better by the camaraderie and encouragement we share.

However, connecting with the book-buying public is always a bit of a crap shoot, even more so when a huge used bookstore shares the same shopping complex as the indy one. (Granted, Mostly Books also takes, trades, and sells used books, but to a lesser degree.) There's a sinking sort of feeling when a potential sale fades away with the comment, "I'll just wait and buy it used."

I know, I know - better a used book that possibly encourages a reader to become a fan than no readers at all. But yet, as an author I get no percentage or royalty on a used book sale even though the book itself is still the same end result of numerous bouts of insomnia and keyboard blisters. As an author at a signing, I'm honestly not sure what I should say to these people. I've tried, "Yes, but it won't be a personalized, autographed copy," or "But it doesn't smell as good as a fresh, brand-new, never-opened book," or even "You never know what people eat while they're reading - what if the pages of Chapter Twelve stick together? You'd never get to find out who did what to whom in the gazebo!"

Alas, used book advocates are usually firmly entrenched in their purchasing habits - and who can blame them? I'm all for recycling, and trust me, I truly understand the economic advantage of buying at a greatly reduced price. I have no problem doing that with furniture or cars or even some articles of clothing. (Albeit, caveat emptor...)

But not books. Not for me. Books have always been treasures, long before I even thought about writing at all. Books are my gateways to getaways. Books let me become someone else in another place at another time. New books feel different, special: the pages are smooth, the ink and glue smell of adventure, and the spine is stiff, reluctant to give up the secrets contained within until you prove yourself worthy. 

If I'm not sure - if it's a blind date with an author or a genre I am unfamiliar with - that's when it's Library Time. And while I love the library and highly encourage everyone to take advantage of its innumerable choices, a long-term relationship with a book I admire will be solely as Owner For The Unseeable Future.

I also think it's important as part of the larger scheme to consider when it's appropriate to spend a little more: to keep a local business afloat that provides jobs and keeps the local economy going, and to encourage local writers to put their work out there, enriching the community. 

Besides, there's nothing more frustrating than to have half a chapter obliterated by lasagne grease...


1 comment:

Ashleen O'Gaea said...

Buying a book directly from the author has always been exciting for me. Even though I'm amazed and a little embarrassed when people gape at me because *I'm* an author, I've been known to be starstruck myself. So when I have a chance to meet the author and watch him/her autograph it for me, I don't *mind* paying more than I would for a used copy -- because I'm *getting* more: not just the words, but the writer of the words!