10 ways to ensure fewer good books will be published

I believe I saw this in Shelf Awareness a few days back, or maybe on a blog.  Either way, here is the offending article:

MSN Money offered “10 ways to save money on books:”

  1. Avoid new releases.
  2. Read reviews.
  3. Find the classics online.
  4. Search for bargains.
  5. Make Amazon your all-purpose book tool.
  6. Frequent your public library.
  7. Explore used bookstores.
  8. Harness the power of the Internet.
  9. Buy only what you intend to read.
  10. Share.”

I suppose not all of those are negative.  I support used bookstores and public libraries financially and in spirit, in addition to sharing (for selfish reasons–I am running out of floor space!).  And in fact, now that I turn a more critical eye, I wonder exactly how reading reviews saves one money–I find it exposes me to books I never would have seen and therefore never would have bought if not for the review.  For that matter, what is the meaning of “harness the power of the Internet,” outside of sounding like it should mean something?  Again, the Internet only ever makes me spend more money, not less.

But “make Amazon your all-purpose book tool”?  Well, that will work until everybody does it, and then Amazon will charge whatever it damn well pleases–and in the meantime, say goodbye to the next Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott, etc.  (NB: That link was written in 1999, and I think things have improved for indies since then, although MSN is not helping matters here.)

Same thing with “avoid new releases.”  What?  I don’t even know what to say about that.  For how long should we do that?  Just in hardcover, or should we avoid the paperback release for awhile as well?  Actually, when you consider that most new releases get heavily discounted pretty much everywhere if they hit the bestseller lists, it’s not necessarily a bad financial decision to buy new.

As for “buy only what you intend to read,” I have only this to say: hahahahahahaha!

I guess I’m also a bit miffed that with all the conspicuous consumption in this country, BOOKS are somehow the place to cut back.  Even if you ignore all the advice MSN Money has for you and buy Stephen King’s latest at full price without intending to read or share it, you’ll still only be out $28, which for many Americans is a week of coffee money.


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