I was talking to a fellow grad from my MFA program the other day and it was mentioned that one of our former mentors had been shocked to hear that we sometimes bought remainder or bargain books. The mentor completely understood that funds were limited, but we are trying to be writers here and the mentor suggested that we weren’t doing our part to support other writers by trying to not pay full price.
And I understand that. I really do. I know I should be paying full price at independent bookstores to help other writers out and hope they someday do the same. However, this is not always what I do.
Sure, I try to buy books new at independent bookstores. I buy a lot. However, I also buy books at Barnes and Noble (I used to buy books at Borders too, but I’m guessing we don’t need to talk about them anymore). I buy books at Amazon. I buy books at used bookstores. I buy new books. I buy used books. I buy remaindered books. I buy books on bargain. Hell, I buy books at the Goodwill.
I mean, sometimes I just don’t have a choice. Sometimes I find out about a book and get a copy to read it long after it has gone out of print. I can’t help that. Then I have to get a copy wherever it is available. That’s just the breaks.
But, more to the point, I buy A LOT of books. I’ve read 205 books so far this year and it is only October. How much do books cost? New usually runs somewhere between $10 and $40 right now, depending what kind of book, whether hardcover/trade/mass paper, and all that. Shall we estimate an average of $20 per new book? Okay, that would require me to have spent about $4100 so far this year. Cut me some slack on this one, I can’t afford to buy all the books I read new. Not without cutting down the amount of books I read by a significant amount.
Mind you, don’t think I don’t agree with this recommendation. I do. I think we should support our independent bookstores. We need to support our authors too, if we expect them to stick around, and bargain/remainder/used books do make that harder. However, this is not a blanket rule. There have to be exceptions. I think most authors would prefer being read to not being read, if that was the choice that had to be made.