Used Books = Big Business

As much as $2 Billion, says a new report.

“I think consumers are increasingly starting to notice that they can get used books in good condition, in a timely manner,” says Jeff Hayes, a director at InfoTrends, a market research firm that served as the principal analyst for the BISG study.

More than 111 million used books were purchased last year, representing about one out of every 12 overall book purchases. By the end of the decade, the percentage is expected to rise to one out of 11, a troubling trend when sales for new works are essentially flat; authors and publishers receive no royalties from used buys.

It was rather amusing (and a bit distressing) to see used copies of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits appear on Amazon on the same day the book became available for sale. In the beginning, they had 5 or 6 advance review copies (softcover versions that didn’t even have correct page numbers.) But now the hardcovers have shown up, some of them signed. (I’ve only had one signing so far, at a trade show, so I know exactly where those came from!) Powell’s, thankfully, is only showing one used copy of Hope so far.