You might expect me to cringe at the idea of my books hitting a used bookstore. When copies move from the shelves of second-hand stores, I won’t see a dime, after all. You might even expect me to cringe a bit at the idea of my books being housed in a library, where a single copy can be checked out and read until the book falls apart completely. Again, all those reads, and the only money I’ll see comes from the purchase of one copy.
But in all honesty, I love knowing that my books are being sold second-hand. And librarians—sure, I appreciated librarians before my books released. Now? Librarians have a special place in my heart. (Especially my own local librarian, Sarah of GreenBeanTeenQueen.)
Here’s the deal: times are hard. And I mean, hard. (Newscasters can tell me all they want that the recession is over, or improving. When I look out my window, at Southwest Missouri, I just don’t see much—if any—evidence of that.) And novels aren’t exactly the cheapest things in the world—especially when you’re an absolute book junkie, and the written word is your drug of choice. Think about it: buy one hardback ($20) book a week, and you’ve spent over a thousand dollars in a year. And most readers I know consume far more than one book a week.
Readers have to be choosy about what they actually purchase. And a new or emerging author is usually not going to make the cut.
Enter second-hand stores and libraries, which provide a cheap (or free) opportunity for readers to become acquainted with my work. Enter booksellers and librarians, who have fallen in love with my books and recommended them to readers, who have in turn picked up copies and become fans as well.
I’ve actually heard from fans who discovered my books in their local libraries—and then wound up loving my work enough to blog about it. Some who discovered my books in libraries later ordered copies of their own for their personal bookcases or to give to friends. A few readers have used my books for English assignments, and have given my books to teachers, who then made their own recommendations. I've even heard from bloggers who stumbled upon my books, then purchased copies so that they could host giveaways on their blogs. Now, that is incredible. All of that word-of-mouth activity, and to a great extent, it originates with someone picking my book up off the shelf of a library or a second-hand store.
As writers, that's ultimately what we're out to establish—a readership who already knows us, who recommends us to friends and followers, wants to invest in us when our latest books release. And that’s what second-hand stores and libraries provide—a way to establish our readership.