Sunday, January 4, 2009

Let the buyer beware!

A topic that comes up frequently in author discussions is the matter of used books. The legitimate complaint is that if you buy a book from a used bookstore, the author (and publisher) get nothing out of it.

However, the author got his or her royalty and the publisher its wholesale price when the book sold the first time. The buyer then became the owner of a product that he could do whatever he wished with it. He could read it, tear out the pages, burn it, eat it (on a really hungry day), or sell it to somebody else.

The argument that says "so what" boils down to this: if somebody reads one of your used books, hopefully she'll like it enough to buy another of your books new. Not only that, but tell her friends and neighbors about this great new author she read.

When you buy a book at a used bookstore, you expect to get it at a nice discount. But if you buy online, you'd better watch out. I'm signed up with Google to get what is called Google Alerts. Whenever someone does a Google search on one of my books, I get an email telling me where they landed.

Today I got one on Designed to Kill, my second Greg McKenzie Mystery, which took me to eBay. Yep, someone was auctioning a "signed copy" of Designed to Kill. It was in good condition, they assured me, signed only with the author's name. Under that was "9/9/89."

Hmm. The book didn't come out until 2004. I don't recall signing any with the date September 9, 1989. Oh, well, that was a minor point. What got me was the asking price...$22.99!

Hey, folks, you can go to my website and buy the book for $9.50, 40% off the retail price. So don't go eBay, try I'm leaving my Christmas Gift Blowout Sale up until the middle of January. It's a real deal.


Bob Sanchez said...

Though I much prefer folks buy my When Pigs Fly new, I am always pleased that they buy my book at all. As you suggest, Chester, the more people who know of and talk about our work, the better.

Morgan Mandel said...

Hi Chester,
You're receiving the Your Blog is Fabulous Award on Monday
That gadget will look real cute on your blogspot. (If it's not manly enough, you can take it down right away after your post if you want, I guess)

Morgan Mandel

Chester Campbell said...

She looks great to me, Morgan. I'll keep her.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's crazy, Chester. I just talked to a friend today who received a book one of her daughters found online and bought for her. Paid $50.00 - crazy!

Katie Hines said...

Outrageous that someone would try to sell what is obviously a fake signature! I guess it takes everyone.

Anonymous said...

Boo on those scammers! You'd think people wouldn't want to mess with the work of an author who thinks and writes about murder all day!

Beth Groundwater said...

I've found autographed copies of my A REAL BASKET CASE on sale at eBay for the same price as the new book on Amazon, then they add on S&H. I guess the cachet is the autograph.

Anyway, I often buy used copies of the backlist of an author that I discover after buying their current book new. Given the large # of authors I like, I can't afford to buy all their backlists new!

Chester Campbell said...

I don't normally buy used books, but we have a new small bookstore in Nashville that has more used than new. I did a signing there before Christmas, and my wife and I bought a few books, like Beth said backlist of authors I've read.

Lael Johnson said...

Hi Chester,
Thanks for the mini-lesson in what a customer really purchases when they buy a used book. Your blog looks great.

Take care,


Chester Campbell said...

Thanks, Lael. Glad you liked it