Posts Tagged ‘controversy’

Are Bloggers Beholden to the News?

So, to continue from last Friday’s musings, I was going back through my RSS feeds and going through some articles that I’d put aside, because it seemed like I should actually read them and I didn’t have time earlier while I was catching up.

Every now and then, some controversy comes up in the scifi/fantasy community–someone does or says something sexist or racist, whether it’s an author or something at a convention, or everyone hate-tweets someone they don’t agree with hosting something or other, or someone insulted something they’d never read and received fandom backlash because of it, and I read a whole bunch of posts on the matter (usually a week or two after they happen, because I am always late to the party) from a bunch of other writers, all of whom have excellent points and are witty and brilliant.

And I almost never say anything (because, again, late to the party), but part of me wonders if eventually I’ll have to. Like, if someday, when I (hopefully) become a best-selling fantasy author, will I need to comment on the latest sexist thing that’s popped up in medieval-based fantasy or hard science fiction? (I’ve noticed people really only talk about things that directly relate to them. Probably for the best.)

I have John Scalzi’s blog on my feed, and on his blog, he’ll have controversy-related posts, and a lot of times they’ll start out something like “Well, a lot of you have asked me about x-controversy (some not even scifi-related), and so here’s a post about it.” And maybe he answers them because he’s also president of SFWA and feels some sort of social and/or political necessity to do so.

And I suppose it’s my blog and I don’t have to talk about anything I don’t want to, and it’s entirely possible that everyone else rambles about their current projects and writes alpaca poetry when they’re not writing insightful posts about the state of things.

But part of me wonders, if the day ever comes, if I’ll be able to express myself as elegantly as everyone else seems to be able to.

The Used Book Controversy

Some of you may be sitting there wondering how used books are controversial. Books are books are books, right? And sure, some of them have contents that might raise some hackles, but how are used books more controversial than new books?

Well, it comes down to royalties. You see, most authors get paid thusly: they receive some sort of advance when a publisher buys their book. Then, once they have earned through their advance, they begin to earn royalties, which are honestly usually pretty crap. You’re looking somewhere between 8-15% of what the reader pays for the book. So, if you pay $7.99 for a mass market paperback, the author sees somewhere between 64 cents and $1.20. Or less, if the publisher takes out some percentage to cover costs first.

If you sell 100,000 copies, great! But most books don’t.

So the controversy comes in when you buy a used book, because the author gets nothing on the second sale. (And, admittedly, used book stores don’t usually get much either.) And since so few authors can make a livable wage off of writing to begin with, there is occasionally an outcry that used book sales hurt the author, because it prevents potential readers from giving their money directly to the author (and publisher) to support them, instead of some random third party.

You hear this argument in video games and movies as well.

On the other hand, people who purchase used books may pick up authors that they wouldn’t otherwise, gaining authors new fans that may pay money when the next book comes out. Many people are more willing to take a risk on a book they pay a buck or two for than one they have to pay $10 for (which, coincidentally, is why ebooks sell so well). So the other side argues that used books allow the author more exposure than they would have gotten otherwise, resulting in a larger fan base.

What do you think, Squiders? Used books – evil tool that robs poor, starving authors of their rightful due, or convenient tool for readers to find new favorite authors?

(As a random statistic – 80% of my favorite authors, the ones I pick up new books immediately for when they come out, I first found through either a used book or a library copy.)