Monday, December 29, 2008

Another reason to feel bad about reading

Sorry, but with the economy in the tank, most of the books I get these days come from remainder stacks, used racks and thrift stores.
Don’t blame this carnage on the recession or any of the usual suspects, including increased competition for the reader’s time or diminished attention spans. What’s undermining the book industry is not the absence of casual readers but the changing habits of devoted readers.

In other words, it’s all the fault of people like myself, who increasingly use the Internet both to buy books and later, after their value to us is gone, sell them. This is not about Amazon peddling new books at discounted prices, which has been a factor in the book business for a decade, but about the rise of a worldwide network of amateurs who sell books from their homes or, if they’re lazy like me, in partnership with an Internet dealer who does all the work for a chunk of the proceeds.
Basically, this is another death-twitch-of-the-bookstore piece. The dollar is tanking so everyone in the publishing industry blames one another, resulting in sentiments like this:
Andy Ross, the former owner of Cody’s, told me that buying books online “was not morally dubious, but it is tragic. It has a lot of unintended consequences for communities.”
Umm... yeah. Buy a book online, and contribute to the decay of civilization. Got that, all you readers out there on a severely limited budget? Everything's your fault.

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