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Seeing one’s book in a charity shop

Posted on Jan 25, 2016 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

F0810_Sheffield_Glossop_roadI have to admit that this rarely happens to me. My first three novels, the ones featuring Cassandra James in Cambridge, were published only in hardback with shortish print runs (they are now all available as e-books, I hasten to add) and it’s mostly paperbacks in charity shops. The last one, Invisible, was available as a paperback, but only print on demand, so I was very interested to see a copy in a local charity shop. I wondered if it was one that I’d signed. It was. How did I feel about seeing it there? Well, I was glad to see that it had clearly been read, probably more than once or by more than one person, judging by its condition, and it was good to see it out in the world, looking for a new reader. And after all someone might buy it and read it and like it and seek out something else I’ve written.

That of course is the only way I’d make any money out of it. I often see half a dozen books by the same writer and I wonder how they feel. Even a tiny royalty on every book sold in a charity shop or a second hand book shop would make a big difference to a lot of writers, though I can’t ever see it happening. I suspect too that cheap books mean that people aren’t using libraries so much, where writers do at least get PLR. And then there is a danger with cheap (or even free) books, that they won’t be valued as much as they should be. I’d love to know how other writers feel.

And this reminds that my book-buying moratorium has – for now at any rate – changed my book-buying habits. It’s nearly a month since it ended, but I have been sparing in what I buy, am tending to buy new rather than second-hand, am getting more out of the library, and am still concentrating on my TBR pile.

 

6 Comments

  1. Sue Hepworth
    January 26, 2016

    I don’t mind seeing my book(s) in a local charity shop, but if it is still there three weeks later, I feel a bit sick. The nicest thing is to find it brand new in a bookshop in a strange town, when you’re not expecting it.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      January 26, 2016

      Yes, that would be lovely – seeing a new copy in a bookshop. I did once see someone in the V & A, buying a copy of a book of William Morris’s writing on art and design that I had selected and edited. That was a thrill.I refrained from tapping her on the shoulder.

      Reply
  2. Martin Edwards
    January 30, 2016

    You’ve crammed a lot of thought-provoking ideas into a single post. I’ve often thought about the charity shop thing, and also about the sight of books that authors have warmly inscribed to friends turning up in second hand shops. I suppose my conclusion is that there are so many possible reasons for an author to feel dispirited, one should always try to seek out the positives (easier said than done, I accept..) And when a book is on sale at a good price, there’s every chance one may acquire a new fan. After all,, Ann Cleeves’ TV success stemmed from an ITV producer buying one of her books in Oxfam. So you never know what might happen!

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      January 30, 2016

      I was thinking about Ann when I wrote this, Martin! Luck plays a larger part in a writer’s life for good and for ill than people might suppose. So I do feel that on the whole it is a good thing to have one’s books out in the world even if it is in a charity shop. And that if one has a run of bad luck it is worth hanging on in the hope that it will change.

      Reply
  3. Moira, Clothes in Books
    February 5, 2016

    Nowadays I read a lot on Kindle, and try to buy new if it’s hard print, in order to support authors. But many is the author I tried out, or discovered, via a charity shop – so, as you say, very much generating sales – and you can find out of print books, and both recycle and help a charity.
    I have one shameful admission: I had no real desire to read 50 Shades, but then wondered if I should be so judgemental without having read it. The answer seemed to be to buy a charity shop copy – I wouldn’t be giving money to the author, who has made quite enough, and Oxfam would benefit. All well and good: I found a copy there, turned towards the counter, and came face to face with a very respectable nice lady that I knew from church, volunteering on the till. I’m sorry to say I was cowardly and ditched the book, and hurriedly picked up something else. And still haven’t read 50 shades to this day.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      February 6, 2016

      That is my policy, too, Moira. And often the book goes back to the charity shop, too, after I have read it, which has a rather satisfying circularity about it. Love your story about 50 Shades! That was how I felt about it. I didn’t get any further than a bit of surreptitious browsing in Waterstone’s.

      Reply

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