Used Book Sales Are Booming

from the isn't-that-a-good-thing? dept

theodp writes "A landmark study confirms what publishers, authors and booksellers have believed - and feared - since the rise of the Internet: Used books have become a modern powerhouse, with sales topping $2.2 billion in 2004. More than 111 million used books were purchased last year, representing about one out of every 12 overall book purchases." It's not clear why this is an issue, or why it's to be feared? Having a healthy used resale market only increases the value of a new book, because the buyer knows that he or she will be able to resell it later. The study doesn't actually look at the impact of used books on new book sales, so to imply that it's bad (or good) for authors at this point is premature. However, even if it is bad for publishers, then that's something they, as a business, need to deal with. To claim that it's somehow "bad" that products are out there for less money and more people can read them means (just like certain other industries) the publishers are missing opportunities to give book buyers what they really want.

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  1. identicon
    Ted Brown, 30 Sep 2005 @ 1:38pm

    Books are not commodities

    Books are not commodities, they are works of art which are massively reproduced. To compare books to cars... well, that's just hopelessly inept. I mean, you don't pay a publisher to replace a broken page, do you?

    Musicians, for example, can profit from file sharing and used CD sales, because a) they can create new content quickly and b) they can garner profits off touring and merchandise.

    Books are NOT created quickly, and authors do NOT get to go on tour and charge $75 for tickets.

    The used book market is certainly here to stay, I have no doubts about that. Hell, more than half my library is used books I bought in college, when I had to stretch my dollars. But if I couldn't find a book at a local used book store, I bought it new, because there was no option to buy used books on the internet.

    Video games are very similar, in the sense that they take a long time to produce (2 years), yet have their sales ceaselessly ravaged by rentals and game stores that sell pre-owned copies.

    Guess what? This is turning the video game market into a hit-driven, -commodity- marketplace where true innovation is shunned and sequels make top dollars. Books are much the same way.

    So crow and yell all you want about "facing up to the future." You are obviously a consumer. As an artist, all I see in the future is a mess of mass-produced bullshit, designed to appease the masses.

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