Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Wish - and an Apology

I woke up this morning, poured myself a cup of coffee, and checked out my blogs (this seems to be my usual routine over the past couple of weeks and I must say I really enjoy starting the day in this way). I was thrilled when I saw that 7 people commented on my last post ' I LOVE a Bargain' and I thought perhaps I struck a positive chord with other bloggers out there. I must say I was very surprised, and somewhat hurt, that was not the case. One particular blogger seemed to be quite offended that I purchased my bargain books at a used bookstore and led me to believe that perhaps this was not the right venue to celebrate such finds. I do not know if this particular blogger is an author or just an advocate for them, as I was blocked from leaving a comment on her site. She brought to my attention (although I was already aware) that authors do not receive any money from books purchased through a third party retailer and that by making this purchase I have caused further damage to the already hurting book publishing world.

I am TRULY sorry if I have offended any publishers, authors or advocates out there. That was not at all my intent. I LOVE to read; I am in awe of the writing talent of authors and constantly seek to not only enjoy the book for entertainment, but to learn how to be a better writer myself (and pass along those writing tips to my students). I am just learning the ropes of the book blogging community and I have apparently overstepped a boundary. Please know that it was done with the purest intent of celebrating my love for books - and not with any ill-will towards the community I most admire.

That is my sincere apology. My wish? My if-I-had-all-the-money-in-the-world wish? That I could routinely walk into any independent bookseller (Rainy Day Books and I Love a Mystery are the two Kansas City retailers that I would frequent) and buy any and every book that I even think I might enjoy (I simply cannot imagine how many books that would be as I have never had the finances to do such a thing). I would pay full retail price and not even hesitate. I would not worry that I had a coupon that I could use elsewhere (as it is now I consider a coupon to Borders or an extra 15% off coupon at Barnes and Noble like pure gold and agonize for hours which ONE book will I choose).

This is truly how I would spend my money. While I try to "look nice" and buy clothes to help me achieve that goal, I do not choose to spend a lot of my disposable income on clothes or shoes. I rarely watch television and I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Becoming Jane (and I only went to see that because I could rationalize that it was "educational"). I enjoy good food, but usually try to cook it myself at home. I do not drink. I have not decorated my house since we moved in 13 years ago. My only other vices in life, besides reading, are my dogs and travel (now, I could spend quite a bit of money on travel - but that should be saved for another blog entry).

As long as I am dreaming, let's follow this dream through to completion. I would go home and immediately begin reading the newly purchased literary materials. I would have someone to clean my house and while I cannot imagine my life without teaching, most of my lesson plans would be completed. I would have all the time to read whatever and whenever I want. The books that I rate 5 out of 5 stars, I would keep - as I know I would want to re-read them again and again. For books that are rated less than 5 stars, I would either keep (at least for a little while) or donate -- to either the library used book sale OR an organization like Helping Hands, where they would find a home that would truly appreciate them (and would never have the opportunity to read them otherwise). That would be my paradise on earth.

My reality? I have a very fulfilling career as a teacher in a small private school. The job provides immense rewards that are not of this earth --- very little rewards that are of this world (income is less than $20,000 and no benefits). My husband has been unemployed for 6 weeks and there are no job possibilities on the horizon. We currently have a house, plenty of food, our health, and a good credit rating. We have no savings, no insurance and mounting bills. I do not say this to solicit pity --- we will be victorious because I have faith in God --- but I do say this to perhaps somehow justify my spontaneous purchases of yesterday and my seemingly callous blog remarks.

I have learned a valuable lesson - and I know that I will have many more lessons to learn in the future. Thank you for patience as I am publicly educated.


  1. Hi Molly,

    I am probably in the minority, but I also buy books at our local thrift store - as well as the used book store at our public library. And I check out loads of books from the library rather than buying them (wondering how this is any different..) I utilize paperback swap which I heard about through blogging. But I also buy clothes/shoes at the thrift store as well as other items that I see. I do buy books at Borders and at our Christian Publishing House - especially if I have discovered an author (through the thrift store/library) and really want their newest book. In today's economy we are all strapped - unfortunately this means that there are going to be cutbacks for everyone. I don't want to hurt authors/publishers/small bookstores - but I also want/love to read and also want to feed my family.


  2. Oops! Didn't mean for you to feel so bad -- but it bears repeating that authors--and publishers--don't make $$$ on used book sales.

    Times are hard, and I encourage everyone to patronize your local library. Those sales count, too. Just, please--buy new books when you can.

  3. What's the phrase? "Reduce, reuse, recycle." This public librarian says "Read on!" and don't lose your enthusiasm for reading all the books you can get your hands on!

  4. Don't be sorry Molly. We live in a free country and if you want to buy a used book, you have every right to do it. I wrote a post about which ones I prefer and right now it has to be used because I have very little money to spend.
    Besides, if I remember correctly, you bought bargain books, not used books and I worked as an Inventory Manager in Borders and bookstores pay publishers for books first and if copies are not sold, it is a store's loss, not publisher's or author's. That's why they sell books at bargain prices to get at least some money back in revenue.

  5. What a thought-provoking post.

    I have to say that I find it a little troubling that anyone would email you simply to castigate you for buying used books.

    Any author should be glad that her work is being read, first and foremost. Of course making money off one's writing is preferred - but I doubt that money is anyone's primary motivation in becoming a writer. Most writers cannot support themselves by writing and therefore work another job. But it's not the money that motivates them: a person becomes a writer because there is simply no other way - the stories inside must come out. So it follows then, that so long as one is enjoying those stories, a writer's job is fulfilled.

    Of course purchasing a new book is preferred, but I would imagine that simply reading an author's work (and then blogging about it and spreading the word) is acceptable as well.

    That being said, Molly, you have nothing to apologize for, nor do you need to justify how you spend your money, especially regarding book-related spending.

  6. Molly, DO NOT be sorry! You are just a lovely person and you did NOTHING wrong. By you purchasing the economy and aiding to the fight against wasting resources. Not everybody is born to own a personal library. I, personally, cannot get rid of any book that I read... but, if you can make 40% back on your investment and use that to purchase other literary works... I SAY GO FOR IT!

    The other comment that I want to make (and, I'm sorry if this offends), is that I am of the mindset that authors write because they love it. I suppose there are those out there who publish just to make oodles of money. And, there may be some authors who work their tail off at a great piece of literature and lose money on it. BUT, I started writing a novel... not because I want to make money... but, because it is a dream. If my book ever is published and passed along from one person to another... well, that's just one more person who gave me their precious time reading my story.

    And, how is 2nd hand bookstores any different than libraries? Do libraries pay authors every time somebody checks out their book? NOT.

  7. In my opinion you have not one thing to be sorry for. First, if I kept every book that I bought, I would have no room to lay my head, so I donate the books I did not like or no longer want to keep to the library. They resell it at a library sale and the money goes to help the library operate and buy more books for the stacks. Plus I have found so many books used that I could no longer find new. Lastly, I love that people buy books second-hand. It reminds me of people who rescue animals and give them loving homes. You are giving an unwanted book a second chance. Chin up and smile. (As an aside, I am grateful to private school teachers. My daughter has loved hers and we know how hard they work for compensation that seems inadequate.)

  8. You haven't crossed any boundaries!! Tons of book bloggers blog about bargain books they find. We all buy books in the way that makes sense for us and used book stores need to stay in business as well. Plus, by blogging about these books you've given them some extra publicity and exposure.

    I totally understand where you're coming from, though. I got a lot of grief on Buy Books for the Holidays for letting bloggers link to Amazon. It can be really frustrating.

  9. Hey.. I mentioned you in my Sunday Salon post today!

  10. Hi Molly,
    I must admit that after reading this post from you and your previous one I am flabbergasted! I too, have spent years shopping for clothes, shoes, housewares and *gasp* books! at my local thrift store--which while not putting money back in the publisher's hands, has supported a local business, which donates to local charities.

    Molly, this is your blog and you can blog about anything you want--including where you get your books. Of course, as book lovers, we would all love to own only brand new shiny books, but even if the economy was better, my bet is that most of us would still not have been able to buy all brand new books.
    I am sorry you had to feel bad about your bargain finds and I hope you will continue to in the future--I will enjoy reading about them.
    *hugs and smiles*

  11. Jeepers, Molly, I am so sorry that you felt bad enough to think you should post an apology. It was so unnecessary! In fact, I think you are owed an apology (but unlikely to get one, I suspect).

    Here's the thing: it's your blog. Write about anything you wish (including your book finds/deals, because I love posts like that!). Don't apologize! I shop at Half-Price Books all of the time. Yes, it would be lovely to buy all of my books as shiny new hardcovers, but at $30 a pop, I sure wouldn't be reading much then, would I?

    If authors have a problem with used book sales, they need to take it up with the used book stores, not with their customers.

    I support your book buying venues 100%!!!

  12. Wow! Where you buy books is your own business. I do try when I can to buy books from independent booksellers -- even if they cost more -- because it's something I believe in. The reality is this: My town has no independent booksellers and the economy sucks, so I'm not able to support independent booksellers, even though I think I should.

    Another thing: If you buy at a locally owned used-book store, then you are helping your local economy, even if the author isn't getting compensated. If you check out books from the library, then you are helping others in your local community by keeping the library a vital and important part of your town/city.

    No issue is black and white -- there is good and bad to every choice.

  13. Please do not be sorry. The person that emailed you is the one wrong. I check out books from the library or get them on paperbackswap and thrift stores before I buy them. I am a single mother and a college student who cannot afford to always buy new books. The only way I buy a new book is if my library doesn't have it or I've read it and really loved it.

    Don't apologize. You did nothing wrong. It's sad that someone would judge you on your buying habits which are environmentally friendly and support small businesses and local charities.

  14. So, while you may not have been supporting an authors income, you were supporting the book store owners income. You were doing what you could for the economy, it all comes around somehow.

    Don't feel bad, and continue to do what you feel is right for you.

  15. If I had the money I'd buy new also, but I just don't. My main location of purchasing books is the local thrift shop where I can buy 10 books for the price of a new one. I figure since I read them and then blog about them (where I have more than 30,000 page views a month) and link them over to Amazon AND indiebound that I am not hindering the book industry at all. Don't feel guilty. I love giving those abandoned books a new home.

  16. You don't owe anyone an apology. I am sick and tired of the self-appointed book police treating book buyers like they are idiots incapable of understanding the marketplace. I understand the marketplace as I'm sure you do to.

    I am well aware of how royalties work (also earning out, pricing a book, remaindering, and many other things I've been accused of not knowing because I don't toe the party line of "real book lovers buy new and undiscounted.")

    I don't buy all of my books new; I don't go out of my way to shop at local bookstores; I do shop online; I do shop used; I don't feel guilty about it.

    There's no turning back the clock on a changing marketplace and industry. A new strategy is needed and haranguing book bloggers for their buying habits is not it.

    Molly, it's your money and your blog. Spend the way you want and blog about what you want to. The frustrations of the publishing industry are neither your fault nor your responsibility.

    (on a different note, you're welcome to check out and join us if you like)

  17. I read many, many books over the course of a year. I buy some new but most of them used. Many of the used books I buy are in the clearance section in one of the local used book stores. I will make no apologies for my book buying choices and neither should you! I DO buy some favorite authors new, but no one should ever be intimidated into buying every book new. Those of us who are voracious readers ARE supporting the authors they love and their publishers. Any concentrated "buy new not used" campaign could end up alienating some of the publishers best customers!

  18. I hopped over her from MY FRIEND AMY's blog - hi!

    Just wanted you to know that you have NOTHING to apologize for. I think that the vast majority of bloggers out there would agree with me on that as well. So enjoy your bargains unashamedly please. :)

  19. I will jump in here and agree with everyone else who said YOU HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR! One thing perhaps that was overlooked...if you read a book (no matter how it ended up in your hands) AND post your thoughts or review of the are HELPING authors to sell books! I get tons of free books from authors and publishers alike because they realize it is good marketing to have a blogger write anything about their books. I buy books new, used, at flea markets, I borrow from the library...I read 100 books a year and blog about every one of them. Anyone who would come on my blog and scold me for shopping in used stores would definitely NOT get an apology. I am just happy to see people reading.

  20. I agree, Do Not Apologize! I buy a lot of used books. It can be hard to find the books I want and the used book store I shop at is a great resource. I'm supporting the last Indie book store in my area as well. I also support my library's ability to buy new books when I buy books at the library book sales.

    I'm not going to apologize about that either!

  21. Just popping over from Sheri's site...

    Don't apologise for buying 2nd-hand books. What's next? Clothing designers complaining you shop at a thrift store? Next thing garage sales will be attached by furniture manufacturers? Goodness, people need to get a life. It is tough times for most people, and for the love of reading, buy a bargain where you can.
    A lot of people borrow out from libraries as well, instead of buying their own copy. It doesn't make sense to me, anyone who has an attitude - author or not.

    Your blog, and your business. Post what you want.

    Nice to *meet* you :)

  22. Molly, I found your blog via Wendy (Caribou's Mom) and just wanted to add another word of reassuranace to you. Do not apologize for buying used books, or bargain books! This is definitely not "unmentionable" behavior. I love shopping at the bargain book store, and library book sales, and anywhere I can add to my personal library without sacrificing an arm and a leg!

    At any rate, I'm pleased to meet you, and will be back to visit often :)

  23. Molly,

    I'm also new to this community! So far it has been very welcoming to me, so I'm surprised that someone would be so rude to you. I also don't think you have anything to apologize for. If the publishing world is suffering, so are our libraries, independent bookstores, and used bookstores. All of these places need our help as all of them have their place in the book world. I know that I rarely buy books (when I realized how much I was spending on books I didn't really want... I'll just keep that number to myself :). I almost always go to the library, but I support my local library by both paying my dues (sometimes very high dues... I'm not always the best at returning books) and also buying "Friends of the Library" merchandise. We all do what we can to keep our beloved book world alive, and buying from a used bookstore does just as much as buying from a publisher or going to the library.

    Nice to meet you and I hope you feel better! I definitely think you were in the right on this one.

  24. I'm shocked that someone felt the need to take you to task for shopping at used bookstores. I know plenty of bloggers who blog about the books they find at used bookstores, and library sales. And lots of us belong to bookmooch of How is that any different?
    As others have said, your blog promotes reading and authors...they are getting plenty of free publicity. Don't feel guilty and feel free to say whatever you want on your blog!

  25. Why wouldn't it be the venue to discuss such things? It's YOUR blog! Maybe I'm overly-influenced by reading Ayn Rand at the moment, but I think that independent booksellers have to compete to survive. I don't mean to be cruel and I wish them all the best, but if they are really the better store (whether by service or atmosphere or selection or something else) then their sales to people who value those things will prove it.

    As far as buying used, I love to buy used (and get books off of Paperback Swap). I like that the book is not just sitting on someone's shelf, but in someone's hands getting read. That's what books are for.

  26. I love books -- I'm a lifetime reader and a librarian by trade.

    We all need to make enough money to survive and the publishing business (and many other sectors of the economy) is in tough shape.

    That being said, I can't believe you would be castigated on your own blog for buying used books. Are the car companies being rude to people who buy used cars? Are garage sales going to go the way of the DoDo bird?

    Keep writing about what you want to write about!! Happy New Year.

  27. Molly, you have no reason whatsoever to apologize or be sorry!
    I know that economy is bad, but that doesn't only count for regular book sales. It also counts for us, the book buyers that don't have never ending money. A book costs about $7, IIRC (I'm in Germany, paperbacks here cost €9-10, which right now is about $12). That's quite an amount for everyone, but it hits those with very limited income especially hard.
    Please don't let this influence what you write. And certainly not what / where you buy!

  28. Don't be sorry.I am another one buying second books because l just cannot afford new ones.I look at it this way l buy the books from a good charity shop and the money is going those that need the services they provide it's a win win.And one other thing if used books are so bad why are sites like going up in membership daily?


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