It may be perverse of me, but it makes me happy that used copies of all my books can be found on Bookfinder.com. I discovered Bookfinder many years ago and it is a wonderful site for cash-strapped ex-academics, or anybody who loves books. There is almost nothing you can’t find here. Some of the books are very expensive (if they’re rare), but generally you choose the condition you’re willing to accept and how much you’re willing to spend. The other day I was looking for a research book there and decided to type my own name in, just for fun. I suppose some authors, having received next to no royalties, might be upset to find themselves on the used market. For others it’s a kind of validation that their books are overpriced.
I’m a book keeper. (Not, I hasten to add a bookkeeper.) If I read a book I want to be able to refer to it again. That’s one, but not the only, reason I don’t quite trust ebooks. I’ve had electronics die on me and they can cost many books’ worth of dollars to replace. Even then you can’t be sure some software upgrade hasn’t deleted the content you paid for. At least sitting on a shelf you can find an actual book again. I know some people prefer to read a book and then set it free—a kind of read and release method. I suspect some folks buy used books just to sell them. Still, to know that books are available is cause for celebration. We may survive this after all. At least our words will.
Bookfinder has been a lifesaver for us independent scholars who don’t have university library privileges or research expense accounts. The collections of books individuals amass are as unique as the person her or himself. A family friend was once won, I’m guessing, by visiting us years ago and saying, “You’ve got interesting books on your shelf.” (In that apartment shelves covered all available wall space in every room except the bathroom.) Having books around is kind of like having kids. Some are new, some adopted. A few you’ve even produced yourself. They make you glad when they’re around. Bookfinder occasionally has items that not even Amazon can find. It doesn’t sell books directly, but puts you in touch with vendors who work with vendors who actually have the goods. It’s all very complicated but it works. It actually seems to showcase one of the things the internet does particularly well—puts people in touch with actual books, to be read offline.