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The Life of a Book

Yesterday I was at the Goodwill perusing the book section, already feeling guilty about the prospect of buying a paperback for ninety nine cents at a used goods store instead of going online and buying it new so the author could get some of the proceeds...or going to a local bookstore to benefit the local economy and the author. As consumers, most of us probably think about how we can get what we want for the cheapest price, or maybe that's just me. Hey, Goodwill does good things for our community, I reasoned. And then I didn't end up buying a book. But instead bought a winter coat and khaki pants. I know, I know...so what's my point?

The outing got me thinking about the life of a book. What if one of my books ended up on those Goodwill shelves? Or worse, at the Goodwill Outlet (junk-ebay breeding ground) store where you pay for stuff by the pound? Maybe it's already happened. Who knows. And then instead of feeling depressed, I got excited about the idea. I'd be in the company of Debbie Macomber and Stephen King, their tattered covers cozying up with mine.

Maybe books are like dandelion seeds. They scatter in the wind, far and wide over time. It's hard to predict where they'll take root. Maybe the book will take root in a reader's hands whose never heard of me before. Because that would be almost everybody at this point:) And if that reader enjoys the story and encounters another book of mine at some point on Amazon, she might buy a different one there and I would benefit from that purchase.

As an avid library goer, I've spent a lot of years getting many books on loan for free. And I'm a voracious reader, so I really can't afford to buy every book I read. Also, I rarely read a book more than once. But since becoming an author last year, I've made an effort to buy more books to support authors like myself. And then sometimes I'll pass them on to friends that love to read, because while that means they didn't buy that book, I may have turned them onto a new author whose books they will buy in the future.

But ultimately I also know that part of making art of any kind, is that some of it will be consumed for free, and that's okay with me. I started thinking about how airlines make money. Some seats are free, for employees who are travelling. A few of the seats will be sold at a discounted rate. But the only way the plane can get off the ground is as a result of those last minute non-sale tickets that may end up costing four times as much as the sale tickets. Everyone can have the experience of taking flight, for some it will be free, for some it will be cheap and some will pay a hefty price tag. But in the end, the airline stays in business because someone is paying for it.

My "to-be-read" pile and two of my books that I've already read so many times!

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