Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Do Your Free Books Promotions Make Buying Cheap Okay?

I really like getting books for a bargain, and this is something that has never, and will likely never change. I enjoy spending hours online searching for the best price for the best books, buying used or second hand over brand new in order to spend less, and doing whatever it takes to save money. I'm without a doubt a cheap ol' gal, however, these habits have caused me to consider something much more sinister.

Does the price we pay (or don't pay) for a really book matter, as long as we're promoting it?

If we're searching out these book bargains and deals, buying them and having them shipped from different countries or from somebody else, and so not contributing to the amount of sales the author makes, is it hypocritical? It is excusable? Is it wrong in the grand scheme of things?

Let's say for example that you buy something on Amazon for less than the standard RRP, which is pretty common practice, someone somewhere is losing profits, whether that's the author, the publisher, the designers, the stores you could have purchased the book from instead. Does promoting that book on your blog, on your Instagram feed make up for that loss of profit, or is it okay?

Sometimes I buy books that are shipped from outside the UK entirely based on price, and while this works for as a lone person financing her hobby, it doesn't help my economy, or the people employed in those sectors, be it bookshops, libraries, publishers, or the authors themselves. I'm putting the needs of myself, the need to get that book for as little as possible, without thought that by not purchasing that book at full price, I'm possibly helping destroy jobs and careers.

By not paying full price for a product, am I disrespecting it's value, and it's creators time and effort?

As if my buying habits weren't bad enough, I also don't buy finished copies of books I received as ARC's, and I don't buy books just to complete series if I've read a copy somehow or somewhere else. This is something I've talked about in the past, and it's usually seen as quite a crime in the book blogging community - to not be buying finished copies of books you loved doesn't help you, or the author, but if your bank balance is low and you don't have to buy it, would you?

Buying books through other people, either second hand or through channels that don't charge full price for books obviously has an adverse affect on the authors, their publishers, and the chances they'll get to publish their novels in future. The amount of sales they receive reflects on them, and affects their career in turn. Is always searching for the next, newest bargain worth the affect this has on the entire market, or are there things to be said for the marketing and promotion that's done for a novel and it's author that makes is acceptable?

Should a reader be spending all their money, gifted, saved or otherwise, on books at their full price, in bookstores, just to support the people behind them to the fullest possible amount, or should we be keeping our wallets tight shut and be supporting our publishers, authors, booksellers and libraries more in other ways by promoting their worth, what they do, and the books we do get at bargain prices?

What do you think - does free promotion and marketing make buying cheap books acceptable, or not?


  1. Admittedly, bargain prices always make my eyes glitter. Books in my country cost a lot, and my family can only earn so much, so if there's a chance I can buy a book at a cheaper price, I'd most probably grab the chance. But now that I've read your post, I've come to consider how that affects the author/publisher. I guess, in return for buying their work at a cheaper price, promoting it as a book review or a different kind of post on my blog, Goodreads, or the like will help get the word out about their book so other people can buy it too (may it be the same bargain price or not)? As a student who has yet to earn money for myself, I think that's the only way I can help the author/publisher in return for buying their book at a cheaper price. >.< Very thought-provoking post, Amanda!

    Mara @ Mara Was Here

  2. Psssh girl, I am BROKE. If Amazon wants to sell me a book for $10, I'm all for it ;) In seriousness though, I see authors and publishers tweeting about those same cheap books- like "Look everyone, pre-order blah blah for $10 on Amazon!", so I assume it isn't a bad thing? I feel like a lot of times, the number of sales means as much, if not more, than the actual sale amount? I could be wrong, but that's what I have assumed.

    Now, as for the other issue... yes, my free marketing DOES give me the right to not buy a book. (This is just my opinion, of course, and you can direct any and all backlash to me!) Here's the thing- if I read a book and it is a new favorite, YES, I do generally buy a copy. When I can, which isn't always the minute it comes out, but I do like to own a finished copy if I really loved it. BUT- and this is kind of a biggie- who in their right mind is going to be like "well, I read an eARC of XYZ and thought it was really awful... but I better go buy a finished copy"? Literally no one. So the ARC Police (this is what I call the people who like to publicly shame bloggers for some perceived slight to ARCs) get their panties in a twist, but would they REALLY buy the book? No. And look, if they want to pay my electric bill so I can open some kind of weird library, fine, let them, but until then? No way could I buy all the books.

    In fact, if I wasn't blogging, I wouldn't buy more books- I would probably just read less, which is kind of sad, isn't it? I have read posts where authors have flat out said that they are FINE with you buying their book secondhand, borrowing from a library, whatever, as long as you're reading it! Because it DOES boost their career. Say you LOVE the book, maybe you'll tell a friend and they will buy it. Or maybe you'll pre-order the next one. So I think it all kind of works out in the end?

    I really like this post, mainly because I got to rant about the ARC Police ;) I don't have time for judginess, and I hate that you were judged just because you can't (or hell, don't want to, whatever!) buy a book. No publisher EVER gives an ARC with a letter attached that says "you must purchase this at full price when it is available", because they understand that sure, some reviewers will buy it, but the majority probably won't, and that's okay. There's a reason they do what they do, I guess is what I am saying. FABULOUS post!

  3. LOL to Shannon!! I love her whole thing about the ARC police--- it's SO true!! I don't have the money to buy every book I want to buy... I just don't. Buying books on sale or whatever, that's just life. No one in their right mind is going to see something marked down and say "You know, I really like what the maker of this product does.... I'd like to pay full price instead of getting this good deal." Just no. And as for ARCs, if I want to buy the book after it comes out I will, if I don't I won't... and I'm not going to feel bad about that. Most of those books I would have probably read through the library anyway if I didn't get them as ARCs bc I don't usually buy books if I'm not sure if I'll love them. Also YES we do give a TON of promotion to books we read... and not just on our blogs. On social media and out in the real world... which is why ARCs exist to begin with. People who think otherwise have issues.

  4. This might be a different discussion for your average person, who probably reads less than 10 books a year, and a book blogger (or serious reader) who often reads upwards of 100 per year.

    I don't think it's reasonable to expect someone who reads 100+ books a year to always buy full price. They're buying too many books for that!

  5. Anonymous02 June, 2016

    In short, I would say no. Promoting something or saying you love it will not directly make up for the loss of sales that you caused. Unless, of course, you're famous and are sure to cause sales based on your recommendation.

    Now, weather buying cheep is unethical is a different issue. And it's one I don't have an answer to. Because I would love to buy from small shops and support the local business and economy but that's not always possible. And I would rather contribute a little rather than nothing at all. If that makes any sense.

  6. I buy a lot of new books, even if I have already read the book. I also buy eBooks, receive arcs, and use the library.I try to support my favorite authors as much as possible, but sometimes, I can't afford it. I think I have found a happy medium, but as an author, I know I would want readers to be willing to pay full price if they could.

  7. Ugh, I get super annoyed with the people who indicate that we MUST be a) buying books of ARCs we already have, b) buying all the books we want to read, and c) supporting locally by buying in our own countries and all that. GHHAHHHH. I WOULD NOT BE A BOOKWORM IF I HAD TO DO THAT!! The only reason I have so many bookish opportunities is because of ARCs and review copies from publishers! I actually barely ever buy books for myself. It's all vouchers I've worked for while freelancing or books I've won. This might make me a bad book blogger to some people, but I also don't have that kind of money!
    Plus I think those of use who blog about books do it for free (actually not even, I pay for a book and then promote it for free???) so I think we get to call the shots on how we acquire books.
    Although I do feel guilty at times because I know how hard it is for authors to make a living....gah. But I think buying thrifty or borrowing and then going off to promote it is still wholly acceptable and kind of us!!

  8. I wouldn't put my books on sale if I didn't want you to buy them at a discount. Plain and simple. So please, keep buying. 35¢ in my pocket is better than nothing! And not making any money from a permafree book is something I chose to do in the hopes people will go on to buy other books. If readers don't? Oh well. That's the gamble I take.