For most, the holiday season has passed. We are now looking to what 2009 will bring. In the last post, we looked at how the economy was impacting the book world, both traditional and digital. 

In the following article though, it seems as though the economy may not be impacting book sales as we thought. 

What’s undermining the book industry is not the absence of casual readers but the changing habits of devoted readers.

Readers are changing, just as the world is. Although we are in a recession and sales in books have decreased, the Internet is to blame a little bit. People use the Internet to buy books as we all know. Books bought online tend to be cheaper, especially with many stores now offering free shipping aside from incredible discounts. The Internet has also become a great resource to look for books (especially if one is looking to find anew author or genre) and a great way to sell books once they have lost their value or are taking up space on much needed shelves.

What is hurting the author and publisher the most are individuals known as “resellers.” 

Some [resellers] list them for as little as a penny, although most aim for at least a buck. This growing market is achieving an aggregate mass that is starting to prove problematic for publishers, new bookstores and secondhand bookstores.

In this new method of selling books, the individual selling the book makes the money. The author and the publisher see…NOTHING. Many of the books that are sold are cheap, as in 1 cent cheap. Why would someone buy a book for $19.95 new when they could get it for almost nothing. Many of the books online that are sold look brand new or have very little wear and tear. 

Although many might suggest that these individuals are taking well deserved income away from hard working authors and publishers, others might argue that resellers are somewhat like Ebay and similar online markets that allow you to sell your old and unwanted goods. The fact that all the proceeds go to the individual who sold the book might seem unfair. Maybe, as this trend picks up someone will find a way to use these online markets to help the author and the publisher.

As the new year approaches and as New Year’s Resolutions are being made, should we be rethinking the way we buy books? 

One consequence has been to change the calculations involved in buying a book. Given the price, do I really want to read this? Now it’s become both an economic and a moral issue? How much do I want to pay, and where do I want that money to go? To my local community via a bookstore? To the publisher? To the author?

Another interesting article: Booksellers and Publishers Nervous as Holiday Season Approaches

View the original article quoted: Bargain Hunting for Books, and Feeling Sheepish About It

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