Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My Life as a Book

I have heard arguments both for and against the practice of selling used books. As an author, of course we would rather have everybody buy our books new, but if a person can't afford that, personally, I'd much rather have a person buy a used copy of one of my books than to not read them at all.

A while back, I decided to check out a used copy of Dunnottar that showed up on Amazon. It was at a very reasonable price. That pleased me. I hate the idea of one of my used books being sold for more than you can get a new copy for. I decided to contact the seller. He was located in California.

The man very graciously replied, explaining that the book was personally autographed by me. He described my signature, and I knew it was mine. I have a certain little squiggly thing I always put under my name. It's the same thing my mother always did under her name. He also said the insignia was "To Sally."

Now I don't claim to remember everybody's name I sign in one of my books, but I don't know a lot of Sally's. I do know one here in Grand Forks, ND, and she had purchased a copy of Dunnottar from me when it first came out.

I called our local Sally and asked her about it, and she was a bit embarrassed that she didn't have the copy any longer. She had let her daughter take it to the east coast when she left for college.

So, I contacted her daughter. Yes, she had read the book--and loved it! She had then loaned it to her roommate, who had read it and then taken it to her home in--you guessed it--California! She left it with her mother in California.

After they contacted her mother in California, we discovered that she had taken it to a local thrift shop "because she couldn't bear to let it just sit there without letting somebody else read it."

And that is where the man who was selling it on Amazon had found it. He read it, and then decided that he wanted to pass it on "because it was too good a book to just die."

So, from one single copy of Dunnottar, I have hopefully gained at least six devoted readers. I have heard from three of them, that they purchased (new copies) of the other two books of the Keith trilogy.

Next time you see a used book, stop a minute and consider where it might have been. I have a line on my website that says "A great book is like a great mind; it keeps on giving,
over and over and over again!


  • At 3:34 PM, Blogger Sheyna Galyan said…

    Hi Janet, this is a great story! I've seen a few used, autographed copies of my book, "Destined to Choose" on Amazon (though one is for TWICE the new price - ACK!) and wondered what compelled the owners to sell their copies. I also know that several people who bought new copies have each loaned them to several other people. From half a dozen new copies, I gained four times as many readers, all of whom are anxiously awaiting the next book. Your story is a much-needed perspective on used book sales (and library check-outs, for that matter!). Thanks, and I'm going to also add your blog to my blogroll! Have a great week!

  • At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Jodi said…

    Well put. I often sell books when I run out of space on my shelves. Then I get to buy more!

  • At 8:25 PM, Blogger Penelope Marzec said…

    It's so amazing that you were actually able to track the book.

  • At 7:40 AM, Blogger Shirley Jump said…


    Interesting story of your book's journey! I have come across an autographed copy of one of mine in a used book store one time and figured I'd be happy they were passing it on. I know, personally, I receive A LOT of autographed copies from friends, and also buy some to support authors, but don't have my own personal town library to store them all in ;-) so I often pass them on, too, with a hearty recommendation for the author's new book on shelves, too.

    Another way around that, I've found, is to buy autographed copies for a group or just for a giveaway or promotion. For instance, if I'm signing and I have some general autographed books that I have bought, I'll give them away to the listeners, which gives a win-win -- the winner gets a book, the author gets promo to a large group.

    Shirley Jump

  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good detective story.

    Seems to me this could be the germ of an idea about a novel involving the lives of the people who pass on an author's book. I know there's been similar types (a wedding dress and a pair of jeans), but make it your own story. All plots are taken anyway, right?



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