Secondhand Stories

I was asked recently whether or not I had problems with people buying my books secondhand. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked that, though I suspect that this time it has more to do with recent discussions on the subject than on the relative availability of anything I’ve written.

My answer is always the same, whatever the reason for the question. I’m a working writer, so of course I’d prefer it if you bought my books as soon as they came out, and from the publisher or your local independent stockist at that. That way I get royalties, which are a writer’s second-best friend, after advances and before caffeine, and convince publishers that I’m a “viable author with an emergent and expanding audience” as opposed to a “corpse-eating hobo who keeps screaming at the pigeons”.

I know which one I’d rather be, is all I’m saying.

That said, sometimes buying new just ain’t possible. I’ve written around twenty novels since 2010, and at least three of them are out of print, save in digital format. So if you want your pressed tree pulp version, you’re going to have to get it secondhand. Or money might be tight, and you just can’t afford those shiny new release prices. And buddy, believe you me, I do not begrudge you picking up my book at an Oxfam or whatever. I buy secondhand books all the time…detective novels, history books, rare French grimoires…you find the best stuff at the local RSPCA charity shop.

Or, if you’re into that.

However you choose to buy my book is a-okay by me. Just so long as you buy it and read it. That’s the important bit. Because if you pick up a secondhand copy of one, you might be tempted to buy new when the next one comes out. And if you buy new and then, after you’ve finished, hand it off to someone who might enjoy it–more power to you.

Also, just fyi, you can still review a secondhand book. No pressure.