Do you really have to pay for books?

Erm yes, obviously. Sorry to disappoint all the people on twitter saying that if they didn’t like a book they shouldn’t have to pay for it. Even if you didn’t like a book- or indeed didn’t finish it- you still should pay for it. It’s simply awful to return a half-read book to a bookshop. It’s like returning a half-eaten ham sandwich to Tescos because you got halfway through and realised you wanted cheese instead.

But the point of this post is not to shame thieves people on social media who don’t want to pay for things they buy (okay maybe it is a little) but to offer another alternative to things you can do instead of stealing books:

  • Use the library
  • Go for a walk
  • Talk to your friends online
  • Basically anything- no one forced you to buy that book.

People really don’t seem to get the damage that stealing, pirating or even returning half-read books does to the industry. As I have spoken at length about the topic before, I won’t bore you with repetition, but state very simply how does anyone expect someone in this already precarious profession to make a living like this? Theft is not a small inconvenience for people who depend on every book sale just to be able to keep writing. We’re not talking about making a fortune- we’re talking about publishers allowing writers to continue series, to write more books and reward readers with their stories.

So, yes, you have to pay for the books you take home from the bookshop. And if you don’t like it, you can always go to a library.

Okay- let me have it- what do you think on this topic? Do you think I’m way off base? Or do you agree? Let me know in the comments!

33 thoughts on “Do you really have to pay for books?

  1. I love buying books , but also happy to give my people my book for honest review whether they like it or not , but had to reconcider that after they get it and I get no feed back or it ends up on ebay unread now that’s frustraighting 😁
    Haven’t found a book I don’t like yet I think all books bring something of value

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Can I reblog you? 😄
    These are my thoughts all the time. And if you don’t want to read it, then don’t buy it. Is it so difficult to read a description? Most of us indie authors have to have another job, or we would starve, just saying. It’s sad that this keeps happening.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I agree, of course! If we don’t want to pay full price for books, buy them used or go to the library! If your library doesn’t have the book, they can usually get it through interlibrary loan. In addition, buy e-books is another way to save money.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Before I started hearing about people returning read books it had honestly never occurred to me this was something one could do. To me, the item is used. I consumed it. Reading a book and returning it for a full refund is ridiculous. I don’t care whether the buyer enjoyed it or not. (And there are definitely people who LIKED the book returning things because they can. It’s not just people arguing they deserved their money back because the book was terrible.)

    And some blame certainly belongs on retailers allowing it in ridiculous circumstances. I get having a short return window in case someone changed their mind or realized they already owned the book or something, but the policy should be reasonable to both consumers and authors.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that people do this- perhaps because I can picture the very sort of entitled person that would buy something, use it and then take it back to the shop. But it’s still incredible to me that the people who do that have no shame and not only admit to doing it, but encourage others to do it online!!

      Yeah I agree that it’s wrong for the retailers to go along with it- but in my experience dealing with the public, I can completely understand them going along with it. Especially as it would be some poor shop assistant who will be getting a massive headache and no thanks from anyone if they say no (guaranteed the people who do this are the worst kind of customers).


  5. I am super cheap, myself, but gee whiz!

    I use the library first. If I discover an author or book there that I love, I make a point to review/promote it on Amazon/Goodreads/my blog. If I become a hardcore fan, I sometimes buy copies of the author’s other books. I also have relatives for whom a new book is an appropriate gift, so I’ll often buy for someone else where I wouldn’t for myself (and gently pre-read the purchase, of course!). I can’t buy from every author I love, but I can at least get them other readers.

    I don’t even super mind if someone gets ahold of an electronic copy of one of my books for free, especially if they finish it and love it and write a review. A reader is a reader. But something tells me that the people returning books to bookshops are not the same crowd.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes!! I think it’s great to use the library (especially in places like the UK where authors can get paid per issue) but it’s just awful that people think it’s ok to effectively steal by buying a book to read, reading at least part of it and then taking it back :/

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I didn’t even realise that this was a thing until quite recently. It’s really shocking but seems to be increasingly common in all areas. There are lots of accounts of people who buy clothes, wear them once to go out and then return them. It seems to be a growing mind set. Especially harmful for authors though who only get paid through royalties.


  7. Reblogged this on EachPage and commented:
    I don’t usually discuss this, but it happens and continues because half (more?) of people don’t seem to realise the work that authors put into it.


  8. Great post, and your points are spot on! Yes, it’s stealing, plain and simple. The ONLY reason I could see for returning a book that’s partially read is discovering that it’s horribly written or horribly offensive within the first chapter or two… but it would really have to be terrible! Well, I’ll expand that a bit and also give a pass for discovering that it just doesn’t appeal or is working for someone, but again, within a chapter or two. Otherwise, it’s yours to keep — and there are always used bookstores, EBay, etc to try to resell it if need be.

    It’s completely reasonable to want to spend less on books if money is tight or to not want to buy a book without being sure that you’ll love it — but that’s the beauty of libraries!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. On the one hand, I find it bizarre that reading books and returning them has become a trend because it seems so obvious that it’s unethical. You paid for the experience, and you received it. Sometimes we pay for things we end up not enjoying, but that’s okay. No one can promise that everyone will enjoy everything. It’s on the consumer, I think, to assess the experience and what it offers, and choose if they are willing to pay for it, even knowing that it might not be everything they dreamed.

    On the other hand, I’m not surprised by this trend at all, because the attitude that everything in life should be free has only been increasing over the years. I don’t know how people imagine that everything is going to be produced and distributed to them free of charge, but a large number of people really do seem to believe that they are owed free art, entertainment, and experiences, and of course they found a way to game the system.

    Because so often they can’t see the author or even hold a physical book in their hand, it’s easy to imagine that they aren’t hurting anyone. Or perhaps they assume that the author must be rich and doesn’t really need the income, and they the consumer have greater financial needs than said author, so their interests win out. It’s easy, of course, to do a bit of research and find out just how harmful these practices are. But not everyone does that research.

    I do always find it interesting that it’s so often books, TV shows, and other art that get hurt by these practices. I don’t really see a number of people going to amusement parks, for instance, and demanding refunds because “the rides weren’t all that fun, after all” or to the pool and asking for their money back because “it turns out swimming isn’t for me.” There’s something about art where people think that because it’s “good” and “noble,” they should get to experience whatever they want whenever they want free. And, of course, there IS a great deal of books and art available free, that people don’t need to steal, but it’s not exactly the kind of art they want, so they resort to unethical practices instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I must live under a rock – there are people who believe they shouldn’t pay for a book if they get home and find they don’t like it??? Good grief, we’re breeding entitlement! Yes, pay or – go to a library.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. When I’m not sure about a book I check it out from the library. To begin with I buy books used. Only on occasion do I pay full price for a book and only for curtain authors.
    With new release it more of a gamble if the book is going to be good or not. It make more sense to used the library for books like that or to just wait.


  12. Humans are the worst… Who in their right mind goes to a bookshop to return a half read book? What state of entitlement have we as a race advanced too? FFS… Totally agree with your statement of paying for it.


  13. The retailers should just put their foot down on this. You don’t want to fight about it put a big old sign at the check-out. No returns. I’m surprised physical retailers would allow this. Nothing more annoying than restocking merchandise.


  14. Agreed!!! There are so many alternative options for people on a budget or for those who don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on books. I think I now have a post to write…..LOL


  15. Agreed, 100%. Libraries are great, and if you don’t want to pay the money just go to the library. It still floors me that people don’t want to have to pay for something that they want to consume, but of course they want to get paid for their own work.


  16. I have a half finished posts sitting in my drafts about this!! it’s hard to finish because i keep spinning off into rants. this is such a crazy argument and i get so upset when people say stuff like that on book socials. it’s just not an attitude in line with what this community is supposed to stand for? 😦 glad to see so many comments agreeing though!! a bright spot 🙂


  17. It just seems too obvious for words, pardon the pun. I was really shocked to recently discover people returned e-books to e.g. Amazon, *after reading them*. I’ve only ever returned two, and that was mistaken clicks and bad UI – but I assumed that ‘never downloaded, never read’ was sort of a pre-requisite for such behaviour. People are awful sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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