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Sir Penguin
07-03-2003, 07:33:31
I was just thinking (!). I almost never buy books. I bought Stranger in a Strange Land because I had a gift certificate, I bought Foundation because it was 40 cents at Value Village, and I bought Contact for free because one of the students left it in his room when he left for summer vacation at the school where I volunteered last year. Besides that, I've pretty much bought nothing other than a few reference books and text books.

A few days ago a friend of mine came by and we started talking about Robert Heinlein, and how my friend bought one of his later books and hated it. Why do people buy books? Almost every town has a public library of some size, and almost every public library (to my knowledge) has an inter-library loan system. Pretty much every single fiction book ever publish is available for free if you get it back on time. If you don't like a book, you stop reading it and take it back. So why do some people spend five bucks or more a pop for something they could get by walking to the library? (Did I just answer my own question?)

SP

Darkstar
07-03-2003, 07:49:23
New paper back costs more then that.

I used to buy books because I liked to have the book to put on a shelf. These days, if I buy a book, it's pure data. Much easier to store on a hard drive or CD.

King_Ghidra
07-03-2003, 09:22:13
For the convenience:

If i own a book and i like it i can lend it to a friend, relative, partner whatver, without any of us having to go the library.

Similarly if i myself want to reread or consult part of the book again i don't have to got to the library either.

For the message it sends to visitors:

If i have certain books around my home it gives a certain impression of what kind of person i am. I find i can tell a lot about people from the kind of books i see scattered about their homes.

Also seeing books around the home can be a source of coversation. When i go to see one of my old uni friends i always find myself scanning his bookshelf to see what he's been reading, it generates a lot of different conversations.

For the pleasure of the book itself and the memories it conjures:

I have quite a few older copies of some of my favourite books. For instance my copy of Sartre's Nausea is from 1958. I think it is amazing that something like that can be in my possession after all the other hands it has passed through.

On the other hand, i actually acquired this book from an ex-girlfriend from my uni days and it always reminds me of that time of my life. The same goes for many of the other books i have, they are mementoes in their own right.

Sir Penguin
07-03-2003, 09:29:24
I see. A further question: do you only buy books that you've liked in the past (you know are worth buying), or do you automatically buy a book that looks good?

SP

King_Ghidra
07-03-2003, 09:37:03
no i often buy new books (that is to say books that i don't own, not necessarily recently published books) but i generally know what i'm getting, because i've heard good things about it or i've read something else by the same writer or i've read an article aboutr them in the paper or whatever.

Funkodrom
07-03-2003, 10:12:53
I read a lot of books that my dad buys. :D

I really like owning books. I think K_G hit the nail on the head really.

I rarely buy new books where I have no idea if it's any good or not but sometimes I do for a train journey or something but even then I'll have heard of the author or heard something about it. I should use the library more, it's really close to my house.

Kory
07-03-2003, 16:47:57
I can't go to the library at 2 in the morning when I'm looking for something to read so I can get back to sleep.

I can't go to the library and be sure they'll have a copy of a book I just got a hankering to (re)read.

I cannot, at seven in the morning as I'm getting my stuff together, think, "Oh, yeah, I should grab a book to read on the train" and satisfy this by going to the library.

More importantly, if I never purchase a book, the authors I'm failing to support stop writing because they can't afford to anymore. I used to buy books used when I was broke, and now that I'm not I'm replacing a lot of them with new editions when I like the writer enough for my money to go to them. I'll buy authors I don't know used and do the same thing. But most people won't have this reason, I suppose.

Darlin
09-03-2003, 20:28:35
i buy almost all the bood i read, and i buy them new. Not that i have to but i do. I dont like borrowing them usually.. if i spill a drink on it them i'm gonna be buying it anyway. lol

RedFred
10-03-2003, 18:50:16
I use the library a lot. And friends feel compelled to lend me books they have enjoyed so I read for free that way too. People know I read a lot so they give me books as gifts, these make up about half my collection.

Often I'll buy a reference book. I have about 30 cook books, about a dozen natural history books, a dozen hiking books, about a dozen mushrooming books, running books and so on. I have retained some particularly lucid uni text books.

I'll occasionally buy a book of an author I really appreciate to support him. Especially at book signings. Someone lent me Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, the beat up paperback version. As I was finishing it I saw he was coming to town to promote his new book The Diamond Age. So I went down and got a signed copy and my friend was surprised and pleased to get his copy of Snow Crash back signed by the author as well.

I'll often buy books, usually paperback, used or new, when I am travelling and unable to get back to the library within three weeks.

Sometimes even with the reserve system while the book is not yet in print but on order, I won't be able to wait six months to a year so I pick up books especially in a good series by buying. Sometimes great books are out of print and all copies have gone missing from the system.

Libraries do not have all books, even large systems like Vancouver's. Too many to order and now that everything is electronic they can monitor usage and sell off unpopular choices. The branch I go to is fairly small but they are always selling 100 to 200 books. So scanning specialty book stores, such as science fiction only bookstores is worthwhile. I believe the reason most SF authors choose to write serials instead of stand alone novels is you can often find some, but not all of a series, at a library and you are forced to buy some.

Does anyone understand used book store economics? Within a twenty block radius of me there are places that sell at about 50% of new retail price, there are also ones that sell several to the dollar.

Kory
10-03-2003, 22:57:30
Since most small (meaning most used) stores basically survive hand-to-mouth anyhow, there's really no way to say "this is how all used stores handle it".

However, basically, you can assume it's tied to what they're paying. It's just a question of how flexible that is. Some stores flat out pay (or give store credit for) x% of list, and therefore, their own price will be y% of list as a rule -- that's often something like 25/50. Some base the prices on popularity (will the book sell quickly or sit around and molder?), on condition (dog-eared or mint?), on how many they already have in stock (another copy of Tommyknockers? 5 cents!), or on how old the book is (new books might be priced lower OR higher). Sometimes someone will come in with five boxes of books, say "I just want to get these out of my garage", and the store might end up getting them for a song -- and sometimes they'll pass on the savings to the customers. Hell, some people donate their books to used stores -- probably a lot of your x/$1 books were donated.

I love used book stores. Typically I use them for out of print or older, harder to find books, but they're also great for when I'm looking for a new author but am not sure they're yet worth $8.

-- Kory (But it's still worth it to buy new. Sales = more books published by that author.)

maroule
11-03-2003, 08:29:05
Much like K_G. When I'm finished reading a good book, I want to keep it close, like a old friend, in memory of the time and pleasure I've had from it.

Books from library freak me out : I feel too self conscious (I can't damage them in the slightest, and I like my books worn out a bit, at times I scribble on them), like if I was wearing somebody else's dirty underwear.

Sir Penguin
11-03-2003, 09:05:37
You scribble on books?!?!?!:eek:

I bet you dogear them, too. :mad:

SP

maroule
11-03-2003, 09:21:14
of course I do, I'm very territorial with my things, I mark them (that's why I buy my own and never go to libraries)

Sir Penguin
11-03-2003, 09:22:43
Well, why don't you piss on it while you're at it? :mad:

SP

maroule
11-03-2003, 09:38:59
because it would dampen the paper and make reading a less enjoyable experience?
I'm also fairly territorial with my girlfriend, but I can't piss on her, she's too quick, and running with your trousers down is a distressing experience.

Sir Penguin
11-03-2003, 09:41:50
Have you tried asking? That's never worked for me, but in theory it could.

SP

Tizzy
14-03-2003, 14:59:15
What Kory said (first post)
Also, the library near me isn't open when I'm looking for something to read - it's open 9-5 weekdays only.
Which is no use when you're away from home 7am-7pm on weekdays

Funkodrom
14-03-2003, 15:01:12
Yeah, that is a pain. The Reading library (which makes Qweeg laugh for some reason) is open on Saturdays at least.

RedFred
14-03-2003, 19:10:06
The Reading Library? What other kinds are there? Ones where you just look at the pictures?

Noisy
14-03-2003, 19:17:51
Why buy books? It would be unhygenic to use library books - you don't know who's used them before you!

Tizzy
14-03-2003, 20:43:54
Originally posted by Funkodrom
The Reading library (which makes Qweeg laugh for some reason)

It'd make me laugh too :)

Sir Penguin
14-03-2003, 21:38:41
Originally posted by Noisy
Why buy books? It would be unhygenic to use library books - you don't know who's used them before you!

Yes, one wouldn't want to keep one's immune system in shape. :)

SP

PosterBoy
31-03-2003, 10:03:02
I always buy books.
We have a great used book shop in Brackley, I love the smell of the place and just the feel of book shops with all the knowledge and potential escapism in them.

BigGameHunter
31-03-2003, 16:12:27
I've got to have books. It's an addiction. At one time I had thousands, but have culled the herd down to some core subjects/authors and collector's pieces.
I have some pretty good sub-collections: turn of the century mystic, Philip K. Dick magazines, original Wizard of Oz books, old Orwell, etc.
Books are fun!

DaShi
31-03-2003, 17:25:43
When you have enough books you can make buildings out of them and eventually create a whole book city.

KrazyHorse
08-04-2003, 22:01:00
I buy books when I want to have the luxury of reading them at a time of my own choosing, simply by taking it off the shelf.

I don't read books on a computer screen because it's not the same.

Most books I've bought have been in used bookstores. New paperbacks are ridiculously expensive these days. They've doubled in price in the last ten years.

GP
08-04-2003, 22:12:31
I agree with using ILL. Like Kitty, I like to buy books sometimes so that I don't have to worry about returning them and such. And a good reference book is worth it also.

but funds are not such a big deal. I really do get sick of buying books and not even liking them though. I like almost now SF any more. So it's just a pain to have such a low hit rate...

KrazyHorse
08-04-2003, 22:15:30
I've usually read a book once by the time I buy it. And I agree about shit SF in the last while. The stuff I like was all written in 60s, 70s and 80s,with a few modern books thrown in.

Only exception to "read before you buy" are cheap-assed used pelican history books...

GP
09-04-2003, 00:35:55
Robert Wilson is ok. Check out the Chronoliths and BIOS. He is a big liberal, but you wouldn't tell it from the stories.

All the other writers seem to write really long (padded!) books. Or series (hack!)

The Bursar
09-04-2003, 11:52:37
I've never had to buy books, because my parents were nice enough to raise me in a house with going on a thousand books, and frequent trips to the library. Now I've read them all (home and library...) I should consider buying some I guess.

Kory
09-04-2003, 17:00:07
Originally posted by KrazyHorse

Most books I've bought have been in used bookstores. New paperbacks are ridiculously expensive these days. They've doubled in price in the last ten years.

The pricing will only get higher the fewer books you buy new. You do realize this, right?

But... I still don't get this attitude. A book keeps me busy for at least 2-3 hours, and I read fast; it's probably keeping the typical person busy for 3-4 hours at the minimum. People will go and pay $8-$10 for 1.5-2 hrs of entertainment in the movie theatre, but they won't shell out $8 for a book. They'll spend $20 on beer that lasts them 3-4 hours, but won't shell out $8 for a book that does.
$8 is not a ridiculous price. (Nor is $9, though I don't see many books at that price yet.)

-- Kory (Remember: Buy books of authors you like new, or they aren't gonna keep getting published.)

Sean
09-04-2003, 17:13:26
Films cost a heck of a lot more to produce, though.

Kory
09-04-2003, 17:24:33
What does that have to do with anything?

Films have all sorts of money-making outlets that books generally do not (barring Harry Potter or something similar). They can afford to keep their price cheap compared to production price. They also have more avenues for advertising, which gives them a larger potential audience. If film-makers passed on the entire cost of producing a movie to the viewers the way book publishers are forced to, in part because of the very attitude non-book-buyers are showing, you'd be paying $50 a movie ticket instead.

Sean
09-04-2003, 17:36:13
I was saying the comparison wasn’t really valid.

I am interested in statistics about used books. It seems to me that a relatively recent book will not have lots of used copies available unless it is either really bad, or sold really well, or both. In neither case can the author have a great deal of complaint. I very much doubt that used book sales impact greatly on the income of any specific author.

Kory
09-04-2003, 19:08:45
But the comparison IS valid. It has nothing to do with how much money it costs to make the stuff. It has to do with value to the consumer.

If you think it's worth it to spend $10 for 2 hours enjoyment, then it shouldn't matter what form it comes in, in theory. Of course, there's subjective enjoyment, but if curling up with a really good book thrills you about as much as seeing a movie, or even slightly less, you should be willing to fork out the same amount of cash.

As to used book sales, yes, it depends on how recent the book is, but 'recent' is a relative term. A book that's 5 years old (which is probably out of print anyhow) is one thing. A book that's a year old? May still be trying to earn out its advance, and that makes all the difference in the world to whether or not the author gets published again. Basically, if you CAN find it in a new book shop in the first year to 18 months, chances are you buying it used (assuming we aren't talking about an author who routinely earns their advance out in the first 3 weeks) is going to negatively affect their chances of getting published again. Authors who don't earn their advance out on a regular basis aren't good business investments to publishers.

As to whether or not it impacts on the author, er, every copy not bought new is sixty cents or so less to the author, by definition, though obviously if the book is out of print anyhow (or hard to find) that's not going to happen. Since authors get such a pitiful percentage of the book price, however, I still suggest that if you like an author, it's worth paying the extra $3-4 so they get their measly share.

These, of course, are paperback prices. If you really like an author, or a series, the best thing to do is buy hardcover new, as not only do authors tend to get a slightly higher royalty percentage on them, but the sheer dollar amount means they get more cash. But I reserve that for my favorite authors, I admit. Most hardback-publishing authors I buy in paperback anyhow.

By the way, I'm not kidding about that 60 cent figure. It's probably slightly higher, but as a rule, you can probably assume an author is making a 10% or so royalty, which 15% of probably goes to their agent. This applies to your typical author; best-selling authors tend to wrangle bigger royalties (mostly because they're generally guaranteed to earn out their equally bigger advances). Most of the money a typical author makes is equivalent to their advance; there are relatively successful authors (meaning "can live off what they make from writing") who pretty much never see a significant royalty check. So the issue is far more "keeping them attractive to publishers" than it is "making sure they make a constant salary", because there's a good chance they won't get one of those.

--Kory (And this is the profession I want to enter. Voluntarily.)

Sean
09-04-2003, 22:40:05
Yes, it is readily apparent.

If you think it's worth it to spend $10 for 2 hours enjoyment, then it shouldn't matter what form it comes in, in theory.
Looks like I expressed what I was trying to say completely the wrong way. Anyway, the comparison between books and films is not a particularly good one. They are different types of entertainment, and films are far more mainstream.

As to whether or not it impacts on the author, er, every copy not bought new is sixty cents or so less to the author, by definition
No it isn’t. Every copy bought new is sixty cents to the author, but people tend to buy books used because either they don’t want to buy the book at full price, or they can’t get it new. Of the first set, which I am convinced is small, I very much doubt more than half would then go back and buy the book new if they couldn’t find it used.

Besides, I was saying that the amount of used copies sold when the book is also available new is surely negligible. I would still like to see statistics, but I am having a really hard time believing used sales really make or break an author. And without any kind of reference, I am going to stick with what my intuition says.

Can you give me one example of a good author who has been forced to stop writing due to lack of sales, which may or may not be due to used book sales?

KrazyHorse
10-04-2003, 05:17:39
Originally posted by Kory
The pricing will only get higher the fewer books you buy new. You do realize this, right?

But... I still don't get this attitude. A book keeps me busy for at least 2-3 hours, and I read fast; it's probably keeping the typical person busy for 3-4 hours at the minimum. People will go and pay $8-$10 for 1.5-2 hrs of entertainment in the movie theatre, but they won't shell out $8 for a book. They'll spend $20 on beer that lasts them 3-4 hours, but won't shell out $8 for a book that does.
$8 is not a ridiculous price. (Nor is $9, though I don't see many books at that price yet.)

-- Kory (Remember: Buy books of authors you like new, or they aren't gonna keep getting published.)

Take a guess how many movies I watch in the theater.

Too frigging bad. Novels won't continue to go up in price if less people are reading them. At some point it will cease to be profitable and the number of new books being put out will drop. This will lead to an increase in the average quality of new books (since hopefully the crap will get cut first), a decrease in promotional costs (since the number of competitors is lower) and thus a decrease in price.

The losers will be the publishing companies and authors. The publishing companies will be selling less books. Bad authors won't get published. Good authors will get paid less than the current superstars do. The winners will be the rest of us. As long as the average reader is content to buy the shit top seller of the week, though, this won't happen.

Darkstar
10-04-2003, 05:43:34
Fuck that...

With eBooks, production costs drop, not go up. Your distribution network is a server and some bandwidth.

You still have to pay for the content, of course, and the publisher's staff (proof readers, editors, digital typesetters), but all the physicality issues drops of except the server and pipeline needs. Instant distributable across the world.

What that means is that the sheer amount of material should be available easily/cheaply.

And Kory, if you aren't listening... the difference between a book and a movie or those other activities is reading a book is a private matter. Those other activities are *social* matters. So even if the movie sucks, you still went out with other people and it can be a good time. If the book sucks, there is nothing there to help.

Notice the result: People won't buy new books because the risk of it sucking versus money paid is too much. That means that if the publishers want to sell more books to the used book people, they need to DROP the price of new books, not raise them.

It is the basic risk equation. Lowering the price entices more to take a risk.

Used books are good for something... they are good for authors to get people to like their work. Lots of good authors have gained customers by those customers reading their work on the cheap, and liking it so much, they went out and got the new stuff from a store when it was released. Used book stores and libraries are the marketing channels for new customers for new books.

Also, the economics of movies versus books are very different. The big money movies make the majority of their money in swag, not ticket sells. Its all about the merchandising to have a true cash river from a movie.

Movies will be getting cheaper to distribute though. All the big studios want to/are going to digital projection. That saves them the bother of having to print up reels. As each real costs them ~$2500 US, multiply that out by the number of theatres that plays in at once, and you can see it can be a heft chunk of change. However, the digital project systems costs $150K+, and the theatres don't get any help on that financing, so that will just drive up ticket prices even futher. Whee!

Sir Penguin
10-04-2003, 05:50:53
I don't think ebooks will be as popular as printed books until the human eye adapts to staring at a lit screen all day.

SP

Darkstar
10-04-2003, 06:02:26
Actually, better screens (easier on the eyes) are on the way. Besides, eventually, they'll just beam the 'screen' directly into your visual cortex.

Publishers are really hot to stop printing books, completely. They want to drop their distribution costs out of the bottom line, and thereby improve their profits.

Sean
10-04-2003, 09:16:23
Yeah, but then how can people show off their library if it is available on a tiny hard drive?

I guess they could put them online or something, but then they don’t get to show what an expensive bookcase they can buy.

Sir Penguin
10-04-2003, 09:22:31
They can have a plasma TV hooked up to a wireless network from which it reads the contents of the portable electronic library in real time and displays the titles and authors and such.

SP

Sean
10-04-2003, 09:31:00
Doesn’t quite have the same class as a really good bookcase, though.

Darkstar
10-04-2003, 09:33:01
Silly!

You show off the shiny CDs/DVDs, as well as all the HARD DRIVES you've had to devote to your collection.

You know, like people do with their digital porn.

Sean
10-04-2003, 09:36:25
Yeah, but that still really doesn’t have the same effect.

Darkstar
10-04-2003, 09:41:00
Get those gold plated, diamond inlaid hard drives!. It will have that impress effect then.

Sean
10-04-2003, 09:43:49
Perhaps you could get one of those wooden PCs. But it really does help if it is antique, and not in the geek sense of five years old.

Sir Penguin
10-04-2003, 09:46:12
They could hang the TV up on the wall and pretend it's a painting, like in the commercials. They could give it a nice frame and everything. And if the house was built properly, they could put the TV on a wall right outside a cool-air duct, widen the duct, put the hard drives in there, and have a direct connection between the TV and the storage (the TV would have to be able to swing out for maintenance). They could even have an automatically mounted DVD-ROM inset in the TV frame, so that they could add books temporarily. Then, they could hook the storage up to a wireless network, and have a half dozen or so portable text displays around the house (in the bathrooms, bedrooms, living room, etc). They could probably make a cadre of robots which tracked the displays, and if somebody took one of the displays from a bathroom to their bedroom (for example), then the robots would take the display in the bedroom to the bathroom. They would probably have to set up some sort of automatic sterilisation en route; otherwise that would be disgusting. It would be great for a hotel!

SP

Sir Penguin
10-04-2003, 10:00:22
The problem with the gold-plated hard drives is dust. I guess you could have a robot which dusted the hard drives, but I doubt you could get a robot to clean the whole things to a safe degree in the long term. Maybe a jewel-encrusted drive case. I like the idea of a wooden PC, but it's just not as austere as a whopping big bookshelf. A friend of a friend was going to make a PC out of a mini-keg, but he couldn't work out the cooling (he was an engineer, duh :rolleyes: ).

SP

GP
10-04-2003, 11:18:27
Originally posted by Darkstar
Actually, better screens (easier on the eyes) are on the way. Besides, eventually, they'll just beam the 'screen' directly into your visual cortex.

Publishers are really hot to stop printing books, completely. They want to drop their distribution costs out of the bottom line, and thereby improve their profits.

So? On the way is different from "here". Plus it is a lot easier to browse a book store and skim a physical book. Sure you can run search programs and the like, but it's still not as aeffective as the quick look through shelves. (Actually in some ways it's more effective, if you want to find a particular book for instance...but it still lacks something if you just want to browse without knowing what you're looking for.)

KrazyHorse
10-04-2003, 20:27:41
Originally posted by Darkstar
Fuck that...

With eBooks, production costs drop, not go up. Your distribution network is a server and some bandwidth.


Problem is that reading 250 pages at your computer sucks.

Read "The Holmes-Ginsbook Device" by Asimov for elucidation... (short story)

Darkstar
11-04-2003, 17:11:28
GP, I can browse just as easily... but whatever floats your boat.

KH, actually, I use my HP iPaq 3955. I can read it anywhere. Like on my commute to work. Very nice. And I'm going to take it to work with me anyways. It's my virtual note pad.

KrazyHorse
11-04-2003, 20:53:08
Doesn't matter. Strain on eyes iosn't even biggest problem, though.

I find myself distracted by technology when dealing with computer. Haven't internalised using one like using a book.

Darkstar
15-04-2003, 04:13:15
Ah. Well, if you have commute times, it can be well worth learning to just read and ignore the geek factor involved. If not, no biggie. Enjoy reading how you like. Long as you enjoy your time.

ozscott75
17-04-2003, 07:25:13
Do you class coffee- table, hard-cover, soft-porn books as books?

They don't have many of these at my library.

Sir Penguin
17-04-2003, 10:00:17
Since it's your library, tell the employees to stock them.

SP

King_Ghidra
17-04-2003, 10:39:38
I find soft porn far more offensive than hardcore. It's an insult.

And simulated sex. That is really offensive. I mean, they already have their clothes off, they're in a sex position, just do it for god's sake!

BigGameHunter
18-04-2003, 06:05:08
Ah, so nice to see a true connoisseur!

Sean
09-07-2003, 21:04:10
Haha! Instead of creating a new thread I resurrect an old one with a cool link!

Love your library (http://www.bookslut.com/columns/0603/rakehell.htm).

TCO
24-07-2003, 01:03:13
Originally posted by KrazyHorse
Doesn't matter. Strain on eyes iosn't even biggest problem, though.

I find myself distracted by technology when dealing with computer. Haven't internalised using one like using a book.

You are not all bad.

Qaj the Fuzzy Love Worm
24-07-2003, 02:09:31
Originally posted by Sean
Doesn’t quite have the same class as a really good bookcase, though. You can buy the bookcase then, for every book you own, buy a book-sized box and write the name on the "spine" and store it.