But what about those used bookstores that are still around? They're selling loads of second-hand books, tossing around cheaper prices, and undercutting the big guy, right? Sure, but should these stores have to pay royalties to the publishing houses for selling second-hand? Or should things remain as they were? Of course, this excludes stores that also sell new books, since obviously they would have to pay full price for those books anyway. Then again, we don't generally expect to pay half price for a brand new book (well, maybe some of us do).
My personal opinion is that used bookstores shouldn't have to pay royalties for the following reasons:
- I'm selfish and if I can get an older book for dirt cheap, I'll jump on it.
- Trying to charge royalties to these stores will shift the cost to the consumer, will shut down most, if not all, of the second-hand industry, and will drastically change the entire structure of the book industry in general, which will have adverse effects on everyone.
- I see this as a way of latching on to profits that have been lost due to poor marketing or the failures of the industry to sell books. But this is something illogical that is stuck in the back of my head and I am, as of this moment, incapable of quantifying it.
- The cost of applying a royalty-payment system (for tracking, etc.) will trickle down from both the publishing and second-hand industries to all of us, which could reduce the attractiveness of used bookstores--most will go out of business.
All this isn't to say that I don't understand the reasoning behind wanting second-hand stores to pay royalties. I completely get it. But it's also problematic, and I think trying to problematize the book industry further will be far worse than simply adjusting with the times. Besides, second-hand bookstores are already concerned about a future where there will be fewer dead tree books and more electronic books. Sooner or later, I suspect, the second-hand industry will dwindle as newer books fail to get into their stores some ten years after publication. But that's just a guess.
What do you think about all this? Do you think used bookstores should pay royalties?