The first time I bought a used romance online, I felt so guilty, I wrote the author and apologized. It was back when I started reading romance and had stumbled across Liz Carlyle's "Devil" novels and wanted more, more, more. Problem was, some in her series of somewhat dark, yet sexy and terrifically well-written Regencies already were out of print.
Many of us've bought used novels at library fund raisers and stuff. But purchasing a book going out of circulation seemed to me a different animal from scoring a read on a used page at an online bookseller. And maybe it's my respect for intellectual property and the rights of creative folks to be paid for output that made me feel creepy about not buying "new."
But I was dying to read the rest of Carlyle's books, so I clicked on over to the "used/collectible copies" pages of my fave online bookseller and gathered up as many of her out-of-prints as I could find.
Then I wrote her to confess my sin. As romance authors on the whole are wont to do - part of the reason I was inspired to start online communities connecting authors and readers - Carlyle shot back an email pretty quickly absolving me of my shame.
She graciously thanked me for reading and liking her novels, then explained that it's flattering when a reader goes to great extent to find her out-of-print books. And in Carlyle's opinion, my doing so made it more likely I'd stick with her books in the future and be jazzed to score them when they came out.
A few years older/wiser to the ways of book selling and profit, I think Carlyle's is a practical way of looking at things inevitable. Of course, an author's goal is to be paid when books are sold on publication and, like any of us who write to eat, I'd like to see novelists earn as much as possible.
In the spirit of that ubiquitous term, transparency, I get most of the books I write about gratis either pre-published, or the "bound" form in which books are sold. But I remember not being able to afford books for more than half of my life, so I have a great deal of respect for why folks enjoy novels by using the library or buying used.
Still, I continue occasionally to buy out-of-print novels and recently paid $25 for Laura Lee Guhrke's 1996 release, " Conor's Way," which the seller apparently paid $1.25 for at a yard sale. But it's always a crap shoot; I weigh my purchase against whether I think the novel might go into reprint as Carlyle's did about a year after I purchased them.
Why do you purchase used romances? Does the purchase of used novels help or harm an author's career? What authors have you found through stumbling upon them "used?"
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