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, 29 Sep 2005 @ 10:26pm

    Authors are adversely affected

    It's not publishers who are affected, it's the authors. Most can crank out a novel a year, and that is as a full time job. Novelists do not make a lot of money on book sales, and so must spend years creating a library of good, solid books that sell a small amount every year, but in aggregate pay enough to make a living.
    Used book sales on this scale destroy that system.
    This forces them to live like paupers to write literature, or write pap that suits in Tinseltown will pay handsomely for, so they can create a butchered version for theatres.
    There are definitely authors who can court a niche audience (which sometimes expands), but these folks are few and far between.
    Are we thinning the ranks of authors by natural economic selection? Is this really the future?

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