A Reader Letter
On buying used books . . .
I received this letter from a reader, who had discovered my books and had been reading library copies. But now in lockdown, the libraries are closed, and she couldn’t afford to buy them new. So, being a kind and thoughtful person, she wrote to ask me about the ethics of buying used books.
Good Morning Ms. Gracie,
I am delighted to be a new reader of your fine work. I read “Autumn Bride” last Autumn because I searched for books about Autumn. I loved that book so much, so I have been searching for additional books by you. I am just about to finish “Marry in Haste” and I do not want it to end.
I was searching through libraries for your books before the libraries all closed. While sheltering at home, your books are helping me make it through and giving me something to look forward to each day. So now I am considering purchasing your books. I found several on “Barnes and Noble” and “Thrifty Books” web sites, and before I purchase, I want to make sure you would receive the appropriate royalties if I purchase? Thrifty Books is about half the cost of Barnes and Noble.
It appears they have 16 of your books I could buy. I would appreciate your reply. Thank you for sharing your beautiful talent; you are truly a Blessing in my life.
Isn’t that a gorgeous letter? Here’s what I wrote in reply:
Thank you for your lovely email. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my books.
It’s true, authors don’t get royalties for second-hand books, and it’s lovely of you to worry about that — BUT please, don’t give a thought to that, especially in these difficult times. I’d much rather you read and enjoyed my books, so by all means, shop around and grab whatever bargains you can with my blessing.
And if you wanted to help me (or any author) just pop a review up about the books, or recommend them to a friend. For me, word of mouth is as good as royalties any day. <g>
Please stay safe and healthy in these difficult times. And dive into reading — that’s what I’m doing, as well as writing.
All the very best
And this reply came back:
Oh that is so kind of you.
I just bought 18 of your books; I am so excited!
Thank you for taking the time to email back and for your nice words.
I have been and will continue telling my friends about you, my new favorite author.
Keeping you in my prayers,
So here I am, smiling. I know a lot of authors disapprove of people buying used books because we authors depend on royalties from new book sales to earn our living. But in times like these, we need to find comfort where we can.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone, and dive into some good reading.
Anyone with an e-reader can borrow library books as well. :)
I’ve bought new, used, paperback, digital, sometimes as with yours, both paperback and digital so I can read the medium I’m in the mood for…my thought if I were published would be Hey! If they like my book enough, maybe they’ll continue to read me and that’s a good thing.
Theo, it’s surprising how many people don’t have e-readers. Apart from my writing friends, almost none of my other friends have them. They simply don’t get why I love mine, even when I point out that when I travel I can take a library of a thousand books in my handbag. I also buy e-versions and paperbacks of some of the same books.
Theo, that’s my thought as well — it’s a way of introducing people to my books. Really I just want people to read my books. I *hate* pirated books, though, because that means the pirates make the money that should go to me and my publisher. A used book, on the other hand, has earned its keep and sharing it around is fine. And there’s a special pleasure in passing on a book you’ve enjoyed to a friend, saying “Here, I think you’ll like this book.” I have lost so many favorite books like that. LOL
I love Her letter and letter and your response to her. And while you didn’t receive a royalty this time I bet you won a fan for life. I just discovered you and you are now on my e reader. I resisted them for a while but I’m a voracious reader and there is only so much house room. And since I am a re-reader of favorites I don’t get rid of a lot of my books. Now with an an e reader I have a library at my disposal on my phone and on my Kindle. I love it.… Read more »
Mary, I was exactly the same — I resisted e-readers for the longest time. But my house is small and I can fit no more bookshelves in, and they’re all overflowing, so I finally bit the bullet and bought an e-reader. Now e-books are all I buy. I love that it doesn’t add to my bookshelf problem, and I especially love that when I travel I have a whole library at hand that fits in my bag. I remember when I was a teen, and travelled up to my sister’s place in Queensland (a 2 day train trip) half my… Read more »
Anne-I applaud your well thought out and lovely response to Mary’s query about buying used copies of your books. IMHO, I’ve always thought it most important that an author’s book be loved and read. I will buy them new, used, or any way I can get them. I also agree with your suggestion about posting reviews and “following” the author on sites such as Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook. As for me, I’m panting to read Married in Scarlet, which is nearing it US release date.
Thanks, Binnie. As a kid, I never had much spending money, but I’d save bits up and buy books from an antique shop that did a lot of house clearances, and sold books down the back for 20cents each. I got so many of my Heyer copies from that place, and it was such a joy to have them as my own, to reread whenever I wanted, instead of having to go to the library. I agree, books need to be loved. And anyone who can leave a comment on a book site gives a little bit back to the… Read more »
Anne, I just love your kind email back to Mary!!!
I have been going through chemo this year and have been re-reading your books during my treatment. They have been a nice break from the real world and has been so appreciated.
Alice, sorry I got to this so late — my alert system stopped working and I didn’t realize there were new comments on the blog. I hope your chemo treatment has been going well and you’re on the road to recovery. I’m so glad reading has been an escape for you. All the very best.