Buying, borrowing or otherwise obtaining books come with decisions that are ethical in nature, among others. As such, we feel there are no ‘right answers’ for ethical decisions. Our values, plus the information we have, plus the context we find ourselves in will yield different decisions. With this in mind, these are our current recommendations:

TL&DR;

  • authors make veeery little money on book sales. ~10k a year (2018, UK)
  • 10% of a book for authors is a large share; publishers, distributors, and book stores take the rest.
  • buying new books, as opposed to second-hand ones, helps living authors, but not dead ones 😉
  • buying second-hand books is better for the environment, yet doesn’t benefit living authors.
  • libraries buy the books they lend at inflated prices (especially e-books), and also pay authors (a tiny) royalty each time it’s borrowed! (But not sure how this works around the world)
  • nevertheless, in the words of Neil Gaiman: “Don’t ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologise to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…”
  • avoid Amazon companies. Their business practices are truly dodgy, they treat their employees badly, they are building a monopoly which drives others out, and they pay little to no tax.
  • AbeBooks, Audible, and The Book Depository are also Amazon brands. To be avoided.
Some of this information is new for us, too.

So, to get our next books, we will probably:

  1. Post on social media and ask friends if they already have it. Then borrow it from them. Exchange creates community.
  2. Search for it in libraries, on freecycle or bookcrossing groups and apps in our area.
  3. Search for it in independent book stores in our area. Helps community businesses, often threatened by Amazon & co. (Have conversations with them to see what their practices are with employees, the environment, etc.)
  4. Search for it on ethicalbooksearch.com (Click here to choose your country for suggestions on where to buy the Difficult Conversations book — both new or second hand, hard copy or e-book.)

Please share with us ways you got your book that others might like to know (and try)!

Sources

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