As I was posting about my most recent find from the Book Thing yesterday, I was also reading an article in the New York Times about the state of book-selling today. Both chain and independent bookstores are closing up, and on-line sales at Amazon.com and others are not doing much better.
The cause? Not really places like Book Thing (which is unique), but small amateur sellers who are selling out of their spare room or kitchen, or in conjunction with a reselling website. Interestingly enough, in today's Washington Post, there was an article about a huge re-seller outside of Baltimore with more than a million books waiting to be sold. They were shipping about 3,000+ orders a day before the holidays.
Some books are sold for as little as a penny. When that happens, the author is obviously not receiving royalties and the money that is made comes from the shipping and handling fees. And of course, authors don't receive any royalties from the books I get at BT.
At the Book Thing, I often struggle with whether I should take books. I have donated my fair share of books to BT, and my family's donated hundreds of books as well. If I wanted to buy books, I could afford to. But should I leave the books there for someone who can't afford to buy books?I have found books that I would have never looked for, but when I've stumbled across them at BT, I've taken and read them. Perusing the aisles at BT has opened me to so many books I would never have known about otherwise. I could look at every book in every local or on-line bookstore and never see some of the books I've found there.
The book industry is changing rapidly with the introduction of Kindle and with the resellers. Do you think that books will survive? I sure hope they do!
Images: books that i've found at book thing (and one from the WashPost).