December 29, 2008

Books and Things

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).

14 comments:

  1. well,,,,,you could always read them and then return them - would that make you feel better? I don't think I could return these books myself - what a wonderful collection!

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  2. i think people like us will ensure that books survive! if the strand were to close, or argosy, i would feel seriously depressed. i think sometimes i buy more books (sometimes as gifts) because i feel it keeps these important establishments in business.

    are you familiar with glenn horowitz bookseller and john mcwhinnie @ glenn horowitz bookseller? GENIUS!

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  3. I don't think books are going away any time soon, it's just, as you pointed out, for the savvy consumer willing and able to spend the time books can be found for a tiny fraction of their retail price.

    For what it's worth over half of my holiday list was made up of books

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  4. Meg - take heart that they books you are bringing home are not the sort the average Joe would be on the hunt for. As an enterprise it seems to be working out nicely - and you are offering loads of free publicity! If I were near enough I'd be there every week.

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  5. Mrs. B... I do use that as my rationalization. I don't think that your average Joe would be searching for the kind of books I get.

    I do rotate books through BT and sometimes use it like a lending library.

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  6. I think more people are using their local libraries (mark and I are!). Ever since I can remember, people have been talking about the collapse of the booksellers and publishing industry but it's still around - lets hope it's just more of the 'calling wolf'!

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  7. I am sure that for every book you get at TBT, you also buy a new one! And besides, all those books would just sit somewhere and get moldy. Books should be used and loved. Happy reading!

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  8. That was a disturbing and thought-provoking article. I watched wonderful local independent booksellers in my town fold in the face of Borders and B&N and, now, Borders is struggling too. I am reading lots more library books but buying the fancy design books that I want to keep forever (and I wish there was a BT here). But I want to be able to browse in bookstores of all kinds, because it is that serendipity of discovering something wonderful that you did not even know you were looking for that makes bookstores such a draw!

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  9. Karen at Junking in GeorgiaDecember 30, 2008 at 5:47 PM

    Life is short so buy the books you want and enjoy them .. you can always pass them along to someone else to enjoy if you wish.. I confess that as much as I love books and I do love them.. I have a Kindle and I like it very much.. Happy New Year

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  10. The instant gratification of Kindle and inexpensive purchase of reading material through it may well put it over. Amazon is currently sold out of Kindles.

    I could not see myself using one but I never thought I'd spent this much time reading blogs on the internet instead of books!

    Art and decor books, for instance, wouldn't seem to translate very well to a reader. But who knows?

    The times, they are a changin'.

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  11. I love books, reading and good independent bookstores- i have a few favorites stores and always buy books from them when i need a present - but for me - unless it is a special book that i know i will reread and because i have run out of room for books - and because i am more frugal these days - i use my local library for book group selections and the latest novels/biographies that i read-

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  12. I think Kindle would be more threatenin to the pulp fiction market, particularly if they get the price point down. Design books, art books and specialty imprints will probably survive but get more expensive. After all, when has poetry ever made money, but there are still devoted editors who start up presses and produce lovely books. You're mentioning books out of print helps create demand for them. And I'm sure you buy new ones as well.

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  13. That's the second time I've seen, "I Married Adventure." It realized $175 at auction in Columbia, SC last year.

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  14. Tintin... that's a good price for it. If you read my original post about it, you'll see that I was dancing in the aisles of the Book Thing!

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