bookfortEvery so often, you have to wonder whether the Big Five publishers really know what’s good for them when it comes to e-books. One of the big benefits of e-books from a publishing perspective is, after all, the way they can’t (at present) be resold or otherwise passed on—which in turn means that used copies of said e-books can’t become a drug on the market.

This is what happens when a book fad fizzles—suddenly everyone wonders why on earth they bought it, and looks for ways to get rid of it. This is the case for an Oxfam bookshop in Swansea, England, that has wound up with so many copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels that they’ve built a fort out of them. They’ve begged customers to stop bringing them in, and maybe bring in more vintage vinyl instead.

If publishers had any idea what was good for them, they’d be doing everything they could to wean people off print and get them buying e-books. Once someone buys the e-book, it’s theirs, and they can’t resell it—which means, in turn, it can’t compete with new copies of said book for sales. By this point, there are probably enough used copies of Fifty Shades in circulation to satisfy the needs of the book-buying public for decades to come.

But instead, they’re doing everything they can to keep bookstores, including second-hand ones, in business. Go figure, huh?


  1. Someone should start a ranking that’d grade authors based on how many people donate copies of their books to charities, typically after reading them but once.

    * Tolkien would rate quite high. Only at the very height of the Lord of the Rings movie releases did I find a occasional copy in a used bookstore. And for the last three years, I have arrived at the opening of a book sale hosted by my local public library. Not only have I not seen a copy of LOTR there, I’d not seen anything by him. Clearly, those who buy his books hang on to them.

    * On the other hand, as you note there’s this huge stack of E. L. James’ Fifty Shades. Obviously, it’s deep into read once and donate territory. Of course, given how much money the author has made, I doubt she’s that upset.

    Setting aside whether I’d kill myself in disgust at what I had become, were I a publisher of James Patterson thrillers or of bodice-ripper romance novels. I’d be directing my attention toward creating an ebook subscription service just for them. “All the Patterson you can devour for $8.99 a month”—something like that. Perhaps I’d even throw in the audiobook versions.


    Would you believe I have “gone Android”? At a street sale today I picked up a Nook Tablet (the one between the Color and the HD) for about $10. It seems to work fine, but with such severe app limitations I’m going to root the beast and say good bye to B&N’s weed-filled garden. I’ve already discovered that almost all the iOS apps I use are free on Google’s store.

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