Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Rant About Out of Print Books

Camy here! Forgive me, but this is going to be a full-on rant.

My friend let me borrow her copy of Practice to Deceive by Patricia Veryan, a Georgian romance author who died a few years ago. Practice to Deceive was published in hardcover in 1985 (with a rather nice pencil drawn cover) with one other English version, mass market paperback with a truly horrid cover in 1986.

Practice to Deceive is the first book in the Golden Chronicles, one of the Georgian romantic intrigue series that Patricia Veryan was famous for. The series premise is fascinating--in the months after the Jacobite rebellion in England, there was a six part cypher that pointed to the location of Prince Charlie’s treasure and also the names of his financial supporters. The series is about the six parts, each carried by a different man, escaping the agents of the Crown.

The book was incredibly entertaining, but I also knew, even before I started reading it, that the copy I held was extremely rare. The paperback copy sells for a minimum of $45 on Amazon! It’s because the book is out of print, and the publisher no longer prints copies of it. Therefore, the few copies left out there are for sale for exorbitant prices.

I’m returning my friend’s copy to her (carefully stored in a plastic bag to protect it), and I’d like my own copy of this book but I can’t afford it! I think it’s ridiculous how some of these out of print books are being sold for so much!

Most of the time, readers just want to read the story, they’re not out to collect the books. Readers might want a copy (like I do) to reread occasionally, or to let someone else borrow it. Most typical readers don’t need pristine copies to keep on their climate-controlled collectors’ bookshelves.

(Okay, well, I’ll admit I’d prefer a nice copy but only because I’m a germaphobe, not because I need a pristine copy to collect. But I’ll settle for a used copy just to have the book to reread.)

Why do books go out of print? Why can’t publishers go through the contract processes to reprint them? Why do online book sellers have to charge an arm and a leg?

Why is it so hard for a reader to read a good book???????

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the first book in her new series, Protection for Hire, which is like Stephanie Plum meets The Joy Luck Club. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

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