In the Blog
Friendly Books, Friendly Mooching
There’s been a lot of recent talk in the Shameless community about being an aware responsible consumer, and I don’t believe that the world of book buying is exempt from this kind of scrutiny. I’ve been known to sing the praises of indie buying time and time again, but thanks to the recommendation of the nomediakings.org weblink, I’m starting to understand why its more important than ever.
At times the commercial publishing industry, like the cosmetic or fashion industry, is just as guilty of bad exploitive practice, its mandate driven by sales and and thereby making it less than virtuous in its actions. We forget that our beloved books are part of what we know and critique as media, and that media is not famous for honest tactics. I’ve heard some horror stories as of late that reveal the big publishers as exploiting someone’s ethnicity or gender in order to sell a work, an action that ultimately leaves the author as a pawn in a economic game. The problem often lies in how authors are unwilling to talk about the injustices, their piece of the pie the smallest and with a thousand hungry writers behind them, they are reluctant to lose what they have. You’ll notice here I have failed to name specific companies or instances in the spirit of that same fear.
The issue is media monopolies and consolodations that leave us all without choice. My temporary solution to keeping my dollar away from the media machine is my discovery of bookmooch.com. Although it certainly does not solve the problem of media monopoly, it allows you to hold onto your dollar and share what you already have in the way of books with the rest of the world. Book mooch is a rather sophisticated online community of readers, each user compiling an inventory of the books they already have and other users are able to “mooch” at will. The only cost for a user is postage, and your personal account works on a point system- the more you send and share, the more you can mooch.
I love the concept, and so far its been working for me. If I don’t want to shell out up to fourty dollars for the latest Douglas Coupland hardcover I can mooch it from someone in Texas, while someone in Sacramento can partake in my rare north of the border indie collection.
Trouble is, the only way this sharing community can survive is with the advertising support of the largest online book retailer in the world–so the question continues to be, should we even care?