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Old 04-18-2012, 03:56 AM   #1
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Used bookstores, harbors of piracy?

I have been thinking a bit lately about the ethics of selling used books.

On the surface of things the practice does not seem to be morally sound given that the monies transferred do not go to the creator of the text and instead go to the person who by one method or another has come into temporary possession of the container of the text.

Let us imagine a book being printed for sale, the creator deciding not to sell it and instead throw it away on the street. Would it be ethical for a passerby to pick up the book and sell it to another?
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:04 AM   #2
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I admit my guilt. I have even been guilty of loaning a book to a family member or friend or even (gasp) been guilty of giving some to libraries where multiple people could read it.
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:08 AM   #3
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Make bookstore dumpster diving illegal! You know it makes sense!

(This message has been approved by the BPH. Vote early, and vote often)
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:18 AM   #4
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I prefer to buy books from 2nd hand stores. I still love old books, although haven't bought any physical books since I got an ereader.
I'm moving one more time back to Australia and intend to settle down in one place forever.
Once that happens I will get back into my old habit of trawling old second hand bookstores looking for interesting old books.

Throwing out books to ensure someone gets paid their dues is a horrible practice. Once the book is printed it should not be destroyed and should be passed out for as many to read as possible to spread the joy of reading.

This is the downside of ebooks and does concern me quite a bit. You can't pass them on legally.
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:27 AM   #5
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Ive never thought of it in those terms...

I guess the author would still be pleased that his/her work is being shared and read by others.

I know Ive "discovered" Authors through borrowed/used books and went on to search more about them and buy more of their works.

So I guess it can work out of them as well.
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Old 04-18-2012, 06:43 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by plib View Post
Make bookstore dumpster diving illegal! You know it makes sense!
It IS illegal in many places. Where I live, for example, rubbish belong to its owner until it's collected, at which point ownership of it is transferred to either the local council or their appointed rubbish collection contractor.
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Old 04-18-2012, 07:26 AM   #7
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Buying used increases authors' incomes.

When I buy a used book, I go to bookfinder.com and get the cheapest one described as in good or better condition. After I buy it, the cheapest one left in the US used book marketplace is typically more expensive. This reduces the price difference between used and new so that:

a. The next person may buy new, since there isn't as much difference between new and used pricing.

b. More importantly, since me, and millions like me, have pushed used prices higher, publishers have room to set new book prices higher.

When you buy used, you bid up the price. When you buy new, you don't. In that way, it is better for authors that we buy used. I think there should be evidence given before assuming that buying new helps the author more, although I concede that buying new helps the author (or at least the publisher) more quickly.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
Buying used increases authors' incomes.

When I buy a used book, I go to bookfinder.com and get the cheapest one described as in good or better condition. After I buy it, the cheapest one left in the US used book marketplace is typically more expensive. This reduces the price difference between used and new so that:

a. The next person may buy new, since there isn't as much difference between new and used pricing.

b. More importantly, since me, and millions like me, have pushed used prices higher, publishers have room to set new book prices higher.

When you buy used, you bid up the price. When you buy new, you don't. In that way, it is better for authors that we buy used. I think there should be evidence given before assuming that buying new helps the author more, although I concede that buying new helps the author (or at least the publisher) more quickly.
I'm not sure if that is satire of the highest order, or economic theory of the lowest.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveEisenberg View Post
Buying used increases authors' incomes.

When I buy a used book, I go to bookfinder.com and get the cheapest one described as in good or better condition. After I buy it, the cheapest one left in the US used book marketplace is typically more expensive. This reduces the price difference between used and new so that:

a. The next person may buy new, since there isn't as much difference between new and used pricing.

b. More importantly, since me, and millions like me, have pushed used prices higher, publishers have room to set new book prices higher.

When you buy used, you bid up the price. When you buy new, you don't. In that way, it is better for authors that we buy used. I think there should be evidence given before assuming that buying new helps the author more, although I concede that buying new helps the author (or at least the publisher) more quickly.
This.

There's a number of studies that have been done in a number of different industries that consistently show that a robust used market tends to support the "new" market. People are willing to pay more for a new book if the possibility exists that they can resell or gain social clout by sharing with friends and family; I know I tend to think this way even though I almost never lend books and never resell.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:15 AM   #10
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There is nothing wrong ethically/morally with buying/selling used books than any other tangible good: car, stereo, house, etc.

As to the the throwaway question, not sure how it relates. It's a more gray area, and there may be local law that covers it. Ethically, if someone intentionally throws something away, I have the right to recover/salvage it and do with it pretty much as a please. In the example, I could sell the copy I find; what I couldn't do is take that copy, print more copies based on it, and sell those.

Both questions seem more pointed toward begging the questions and opening the old & worn-out debate over the ownership of e-books and why they can't be sold "used" like a DTB can. Not gonna go there.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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Used sales should be banned in all industry.

Think of the economic gains that could be had when customers throw their perfectly working and usable items into landfill as they upgrade and others buy new instead of trying to buy a cheaper used item.

Now digital items, not really a "green" reason to argue pro used sales. I think people should have similar sale rights over digital though but with the nightmare it'd be to police I can understand why it isn't the case at the moment.
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:23 AM   #12
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Let us imagine a book being printed for sale, the creator deciding not to sell it and instead throw it away on the street. Would it be ethical for a passerby to pick up the book and sell it to another?
It is at least as ethical as the creator's littering.

You set the stage, so I'll direct the actors.

Henry (played by Simon Helberg), our meek passerby, sees the book in the street. Being the overly orderly person he is, he can't help but pick it up and wonder who lost it; the book is in perfect condition and clearly isn't trash. His wife Martha (played by Sarah Silverman), a cynical, demanding and cruel woman many years Henry's senior, instantly objects to Henry's action; she objects to pretty everything Henry does. Henry typically just submits to her--apologizing even when he doesn't even understand the objection--but this time Henry acts differently. Oh, he apologizes in his usual way, but instead of just immediately discarding the book in the nearest trash container (he would never toss it back in the street), he decides to find its owner.
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:25 AM   #13
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I admit my guilt. I have even been guilty of loaning a book to a family member or friend or even (gasp) been guilty of giving some to libraries where multiple people could read it.
If that (e)book was loaned to more people than the creator determined loan limits, than yes you might be guilty of piracy. You bring up a good point about libraries though, yes they purchase books but then they simply allow anyone and everyone to read them multiple times, where is the morality in that practice? Sure some localities do reimburse the authors per library read, but is it enough? How is enough compensation per read even determined?

Should we simply place our heads in the sand and pretend to not throw the baby out with the bathwater, or shall we contemplate a world where not just books, but all goods are print on demand, or simply digital files?
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:42 AM   #14
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Some news that might be relevant, have a nice day everyone!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/s...,6351259.story
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:24 PM   #15
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If I buy a physical book, it's mine, I'm going to do with it what I want whether I keep it, give it to someone, give it to a library whatever.

What if God forbid I decided to reread that book, should I pay for it again?

Libraries have been around for 100s, 1000s of years in one form or another, this whole "Author wants to be reimbursed for every read" is insane and completely wrong.
The Authors that complain about this are just plain greedy.

I'm not very happy that I'm not legally allowed to give ebooks that I have bought to other people. I suspect that will change one day tho.

The law needs to change and if it doesn't people will ignore the law and do it anyway.
The music industry learned the hard way, I expect publishers will have to as well.
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