Saturday, 23 May 2009


Where do you buy your books? The interweb? The High Street? Village fete? And does it matter? Well, that depends on whether or not you care who gets your hard-earned cash, who benefits from the transaction. Buying literature has different consequences depending on whether you shop at Waterstones or Amazon, your local independent or Oxfam. What are the implications of buying second-hand books, for example? This brilliant article at How Publishing Really Works explains some of them.

I have to admit to buying a new hardback on Amazon recently for 1p. Perhaps the seller made something on the postage, but the author certainly didn’t. And so from now I am vowing to buy no more second-hand books (unless they’re out of print), no more ridiculous bargains. It’s independents only for me; you know, those delightful, friendly bookshops that have such variety, who don’t get huge discounts from the publisher, who don’t charge the publisher to feature their books in 3 for 2 sections, who don't sell Harry Potter for 37p to get you among their fruit and veg.

And the other virtuous place to buy books? The small presses, of course, such as Salt.


Anonymous said...

Dear Grant,
sorry, Tim, I am so envious after reading about your Arts Council Grant that it won't leave the forefront of my brain.
As an author I check my sales ranking daily (OK, hourly) on Amazon and an independent bookshop coffer me that thrill.
Also second hand books are often wonderful reads and then by word of mouth you can boost sales figures through recommendation, so don't stop the summer fete/jumble sale/charity shop book purchases, please.
Love your blog.
Anna May Mangan

TOM J VOWLER said...


Anonymous said...

Ooops, sorry Tom, it's the envy thing. I'm typing with narrowed eyes,
Anna May

TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anna May. Yes, that's a good point: you buy a second-hand book where the author gets nothing, but this might introduce you to them, encourage you to buy their others.

Alison said...

Yes, damn those charity shops making money out of other people's books to stop children starving and kittens being trodden on. How dare they? ;) x

auntagnes said...

Sorry I never found the chance to speak with you tonight; I very much enjoyed your reading and wonder where I could find out more about Will?

TOM J VOWLER said...

Thanks, AA. You can find my story The Method in Riptide: I think they're £5 + postage. Glad you enjoyed it.