Home > Uncategorized > What is the value of a book?

What is the value of a book?

What is the value of a book?  As a question it’s right up there with “How long is a piece of string?” or “How many apples in a barrel of grapes?” So let’s narrow it down a bit to the vexed question of books as gifts.

In these days of deep discounts and multiple book offers on-line and in-store, how does the recipient of a book from me know that I have spent ages lovingly selecting it from a real bookshop, maybe even an independent bookshop?  Will they assume it was a bargain from Amazon?  Or – shock, horror! – part of a multiple pack bought for next to nothing from The Book People?

When books are regularly given away with magazines and newspapers and cut-price deals are everywhere, do we really value books as we should?  When you can download hundreds of free books onto your Kindle, do you think of them differently?

For the record, I buy my books from all sorts of places and I am just as easily seduced by a bargain as the next person – I would find it hard to support my reading habit if I didn’t succumb occasionally!  But if you receive a book from me, be assured that, nine times out of ten, it will be that carefully sourced, fully-priced, real-bookshop-bought volume.

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  1. May 30, 2012 at 8:49 am

    This is an excellent post, posing a fascinating question. What is the value of a book – is it in the time an author took to write it (in which case the 85p ebook version of my First Aid for Fairies on Amazon right now is a bit misleading!), is it the money the purchaser spends on it, is it the businesses and staff that money supports, or is it the pleasure the book gives the reader? Can it be all of those things? Just like I always buy fairtrade bananas and fairtrade tea bags to support banana growers and tea pickers, I always try to buy real books from real bookshops. That way I’m supporting the author, the publisher, and the booksellers. And if I get advice from the bookseller (rather than just lists from Amazon!) then I hope I’ll choose the perfect book, and give pleasure to the reader too! It’s a question about valuing art over bargains, about valuing the creators of a work, as well as maintaining the distribution networks which promote knowledge and diversity. It’s all that. But actually, we could just answer: Books are priceless. That is their true value.
    See you in a real bookshop sometime, Carol!

    • May 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Couldn’t agree more! If I don’t see you in a real bookshop sometime soon, I’ll see you at the launch of Maze Running.

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