Jean McKnight

August 12, 2002

Post #1520 – 20020812

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I frequently buy used books instead of new books, because I am cheap, and also because I like used book stores. The onliest thing is I feel guilty because I know the author doesn’t get anything to buy beans with that way. I have been thinking maybe I could solve this problem by sending the author a little cash directly when I buy a used copy of a book. I’m guessing I could send twice the cut they usually get and still come out ahead of retail for a new copy, plus keep the cool used bookstores with the bookstore cats afloat. How much do you usually make from the sale of a single copy of a book? Is there an address readers can send such contributions to?

I really feel I owe you personally, for all the hours of reading and listening pleasure, and moreso, for the joy of reading your kids books with their wonderful round little heroes to my wonderful round little son!

Daniel replies:

I suggest an alternative scheme. Choose one author. One friendly, reliable, consistent author whose books you like. Over a period of, say, 20 years, put aside a sum between 5% and 10% of what you spend on ALL used books by all authors--then, when you have a substantial lump of cash, send it to that author. If many used book buyers followed this practice, given that different people would choose different authors, the payments would get spread around, and you wouldn't be using a 37-cent stamp to send me 15 or 20 cents whenever you buy a used copy of something I wrote.