The seller makes a profit, the buyer gets a good deal, and the author/publisher gets no monetary compensation whatsoever.

Is the used book business tantamount to theft?

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book rental is also a pretty big business.

i really think used book sales, book rentals, and book swaps are the leading culprits behind the massive decline in book sales. and the internet has brought it to the world and made it so anybody can buy or rent used books from the comfort of home.

there are a lot of other things that play into it -- people are simply reading less, but i think internet sales and rentals have really dealt publishing and authors a huge blow. at the same time, books are horribly expensive and many people wouldn't be reading us at all if they couldn't get our books used.
The physical book is property. You have the right to dispose of it as you wish. It may not make me any more money, but my authorship of a book does not give me the right to tell other people what they may do with tangible objects that they've purchased legally. .
I agree. I don't like these debates about the "ethics" of used book sales, etc., because it's not going to change the consumer's book-buying habits. There are so many huge issues out there regarding trade and consumerism--the book industry is currently a pretty low concern.

I know used book sales have decimated the textbook industry--but why make those textbooks so expensive? I know when I was a college student, I tried to buy as many used textbooks as possible.

When e-book readers become more popular, we authors will really have a big problem on our hands. I don't mind a person passing on one of my books she has purchased to a friend, but once it's done multiple times with the same e-book, this will significantly cut into our royalties. This situation may happen earlier than we think.
The situation with ebooks is already going on now, in the ebook industry. There are authors who spend time frequently hunting down pirate sites and getting them shut down (although we all know they pop up again elsewhere under a new name--we've just briefly stopped them.) At this point the numbers of people who do it are not huge, but it's likely to change as the technology makes it easier to acquire and read them.
A comment on text books: the publishers retaliated by putting out a new edition every 2 years or so, and most of the time that only involved rearranging the material so that the page numbers would not match the earlier copy and professors were forced to require the new book.

This unfortunately does not work for us.
I agree, JD. And, I agree with Pepper. It's another form of advertising, so the author does benefit (though not monetarily). Getting your name in front of as many eyes as possible is a good thing, I think.

If someone buys a book for a penny, and then buys the next new release from the author or even tells a few friends how much s/he likes the author, then everyone wins.
I find it especially unpalatable to see books on Amazon for pennies and know the incentive here is to charge mailing costs. If the book is out of print, it's one thing, but when there are copies in the store, or new on Amazon, it seems pretty questionable. But some people would question whether reading books from the libraries hurts writers too, or buying them from libraries at a very low price.
Turn it this way: Is the used car business tantamount to theft? (How ethical the used car business is can be saved for another discussion.) I agree completely with JD. Someone who buys the book can then do what he wants with it, aside from reproduction. Publishers may well be their own worst enemies. They cry because readership is down, then raise prices so that a lot of people - especially school- and college-aged - can't afford to buy more than a few books a year. If a used or second hand book can help to keep people reading, it will eventually help everyone.
Depends on whether you think that an author views secondary readership as a blessing or a curse.
How about this question: Is lending your friend a book tantamount to theft?
Are we about profit or getting our work out there? I know how I feel about that.
Profit-free as always,
Ed
I've spent many happy hours in the last 45 or so years in used book stores, looking for novels by Harry Whittington, Day Keene, Charles Williams, and on and on and on. I've sound so much wonderful stuff that I have no problem at all with seeing my own books turn up there. Well, okay, seeing one I've signed turn up there bothers me a little. But not all that much.
Most used book sales are for a fraction of the price the original buyer paid for them. The original buyer recoups some of what he paid, and used book shops enable readers to find books that might be out of print. I don't tend to buy many used books, but from a purely ego viewpoint, I think I'd be more upset to see one of my books sitting endlessly on a used bookstore shelf rather than having someone buy and read that used copy. If the buyer likes it enough, they might look for other books by me and buy them new. If not, they may tell others about it, who might buy them new. Just another form of advertising.
For some reason, it's seeing them being sold for pennies on amazon that bothers me most. Especially when there only months old. Why would anyone pay $23 when they can buy them for pennies? The traditional used book stores is another thing entirely to my old head.

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