On Book Sales and Collecting Books

Part 1 of our haul

So, I’m the first to admit that I have a bit of a problem. I hoard books. Collect them. There are whole bookshelves that take up more space in our tiny apartment than most people would give away to books. For me, that’s not just fine, that’s the ideal state of the world. To me, a pile of books precariously stacked on the bedside table isn’t a mess. Those are books in their natural habitat. They get to be like that.

We have a regular book sale in our small town. Well, actually we have a lot of them. There’s something like three or four over the course of a calendar year that we can hit. And at each of these, I’m hit with the realization that I’m not paying the original author of the books. It’s not ideal.

That being said, I’m on the poor side. Those royalties I have trickling in are a wonderful blessing, but they’re incredibly variable. I’ve got some amazing clients I work with, and I’ve got an amazing job that takes up a good chunk of my time, but the money isn’t at a place where it’s rolling in.

 And part 2 And part 2

None of this is a complaint, mind you. It’s a reality of our industry, of many industries. I’m still putting in my time, still building up my chops and experience. That’s part of the deal.

I just, at times, worry about it. I’m buying books that are used, paying a couple of dollars instead of their full price. At the same time, I’m turning around to ask someone else for a full price to buy one of my books. Though, that being said, I fully expect anything I write to end up traded around, passed off, sold and resold for a lot less than the cover. That’s just part of what happens to books when they’re real constructs in the world.

I’m reminded of Cory Doctorow’s myriad writings on this topic. That information doesn’t want to be free, that we’ve got to transition from mammalian treatment of our creative endeavours to something more akin to a dandelion. I want to get more on board with that, but I can’t help but seeing a couple of concerns. If we sacrifice too much quality, if we just throw them out there, we’re no different from the swarms of people self-publishing unedited drek.

Books have value. These writers who created worlds and shared wisdom, they all have value. It’s just value I can’t afford right now. They didn’t get to have any say about whether someone would give away their books to be sold for charity. Though, it is all sold to support libraries and reading initiatives. That’s good. We like people who read, and it is good.

So, part of how I handle this is the justification that this is all fodder that I’m going to try to use to make more art. Whether I’m designing games, writing books, telling stories, it is all part of the pattern that goes on. When I’m more established, I’m going to do what I can to give back. We’re part of a larger community, part of a long and storied tradition. Yes, that pun is intended.

That’s probably the best I can do, for now. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read some books.

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