This post is a response to Amanda @ Book Badger’s discussion called “Buying Books, Free Marketing and Being a British “Tight Wod“. I wrote two HUGE comments on the post, and thought I’d turn them into a proper response.
Amanda starts her post by declaring that she’ll do whatever it takes to get the best deal possible when buying books, from searching out deals on-line, to buying from other countries, to buying second-hand, but it got her wondering if this somehow makes her a bad blogger…
Searching For A Great Deal…
I love a
good great deal. I’ve even got a section dedicated to it on my blog (Bookish Deals and Discounts), and I spend quite a while searching out books I want to buy and adding them to wishlists so I can monitor the prices and pounce when they drop. Most of the time, I’ll search on-line for a discount code, and where possible, I’ll also make the purchase through Quidco so I can get a little cash-back too. A “good” shop for me? I’ll pick up 10 new books for £20, with free delivery, which sometimes includes the odd hardback. It’s thrilling. But more than that, this enables me to buy more books without feeling guilty and putting myself on a book-buying ban, because I’m not spending a small fortune. Win-win.
Here’s how I look at it – I work hard for my money, and I don’t have a bottomless pit of disposable income, so I want to make sure I’m getting the most
bang book for my buck. I’m not downloading illegal pirated versions of books, I’m just making sure that I’m getting the best deal possible, and I’m a deal-hunter in every aspect of my life (phone and Internet deals, beauty and skincare, I’m on those bargains!).
However, because of my deal-finding fetish, I have to admit that physical stores do lose out. I shop far more frequently at Amazon, The Book People and The Works, than I do at Waterstones (the only physical book-seller near me). I’m not happy about this. I would rather support a physical store, but sometimes I’m not in the position to. To make up for this, when I’m price-checking a book and there’s minimal difference between on-line stores and Waterstones – I’ll buy from Waterstones.
Impact on Authors and Publishers
But Amanda’s conscience won’t let her be, she’s also concerned about the impact of her deal-finding on the author’s revenue and overall book sales. I’m not sure how this works, but I’m pretty sure an author doesn’t get paid per book sold, or a cut of each book sold based on sale value, they get a sum for a book-deal, and can re-negotiate if more print runs are done, no? This is very much a novice’s attempt at explaining it, but I think it’s close? (It would be great for an author or bookseller to weigh in on this!).
Yes, these on-line bookstores are selling below RRP, and then I’m adding my discounts on top – but surely there’s a reason for that? I’m assuming these bookstores either get a deal from the publisher, are selling off old editions they are trying to get rid of, or are using a clever marketing ploy to generate more sales (get you in the door for the cheap ones, and sell you some dearer ones while you’re there, in the biz these are called “loss-leaders”). Because of this, I don’t feel I’m doing anyone out of money, as I’m paying the price they are asking for.
Second-Hand Buying and Selling
Personally, I don’t often use market-places. I’ve found I can usually get my hands on the book cheaper new than what many re-sellers are asking for it. I’ll use charity shops from time-to-time, because honestly I spend enough on my hobby, and the thrill of a great find is fabulous! We could over-analyse this one to death, but when someone sells a second-hand car, do we feel sorry for Ford because they aren’t getting another sale? This is just how the world works, so I can’t justify feeling bad for it (and in some cases my money is going to charity…). Re-sales of books undoubtedly don’t contribute to an author’s total number of books sold, and I wonder how they, and publishers, feel about that? Are they content that the author is still getting increased exposure through re-sales? Do any of you sell your books on when you’re done with them??
I don’t buy books INT. I thought about it for the first time with Book Outlet’s Black Friday Sale; I put all the books I wanted into the cart, worked out the discount and added on the crazy shipping costs. The books worked out at £3 each – books like Cinder, Colleen Hoover etc., which are never less than £3 each in the UK that I’ve seen, and I debated placing my first INT order. I don’t think shopping INT makes you a bad person – we’re in a Global economy these days, your bananas from Tesco were not produced in London. Yes, we probably can and should support local where it is financially viable to do so – but for many of us we really need to think about it first. Yes, the economy is going through recession, but as individuals, so are we.
So. What great conclusion have I come to?
I don’t think any of these things make you a bad person, or a bad blogger. There’s a difference between hunting down a deal and reading illegal downloads. If I was in a position financially to not source the best deals, or if I simply didn’t want to put the effort in, then fine – but I search for deals in EVERYTHING. I think today, a smart shopper holds the power, and I can’t see my bargain-hunting ways changing any time soon…
What do you guys think about deal-finding? Do you have any opinions on any of the points in this discussion? Do you agree or completely disagree with me? Let me know in the comments!