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Is paying for words important?

I was wandering through Posman Books the other day, coveting all the pretty new cookbooks that have little to do with actual cooking, when I happened upon these signs:

In response

and

We are not the man

The posters were striking because they were so desperate and earnest and because the person who wrote them clearly cares so much about writing, about books, and about trying to make sure that everyone involved in the process of making and selling books is able to earn an honest living.

As a writer and a reader, I spend plenty of time thinking about the value of words. I don’t mean that in any philosophical, abstract sense (though I spend plenty of time thinking about words in that way, too), but in a concrete, dollars and cents kind of way. Even when I haven’t had what you might call “disposable” income, I’ve always made buying other people’s words, whether in magazine or book form, a priority. I suppose that’s because, besides just loving words and feeling my best when I’m surrounded by books, I want to make sure that other writers are able to make a living, too.

It’s impossible to buy every book we want, of course, but how about you: How do you decide which creations to buy? And to what extent does supporting the author enter into your decision to buy versus borrow? Is paying for words important to you?

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One response »

  1. Such an interesting question, Julie. (And how sad that book theft in this store has become a big enough problem that these signs are needed at all!)

    I spend a large proportion of my disposable income on books–partly because the local library here doesn’t stock enough of the English books I’m interested in, but also because, like you, I want to support other artists in their work. I feel the same way (usually) about music and film. Shelling out my own hard-earned cash for literary/musical/visual entertainment and enlightenment seems like small potatoes when compared with how much effort and passion went into the creation of that work. Plus it slows me down when I’m drawn to less meaningful stuff–e.g., is that formulaic romantic comedy really worth a $4 rental fee?

    Reply

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