Why don't I think that way? Because I, too, have bought used books. Many times I have purchased used books when I've wanted to test-drive new authors and genres. And believe me, nobody missed out on royalties because if the books had not been available to me used, I would almost certainly never have bought and read them.
In my previous post on this subject I made a distinction between authors attracting "customers" and cultivating a readership. I'm still taking that long view, partly because I just want my stuff read, even if people are going to read it without making contributions to my husband's sports-car fund. But do have a mercenary side, and that part of me firmly believes used book sales actually help create a market for new books, which in the long haul must increase authors' earnings.
For the past two years, every time I have received an e-mail from someone who has enjoyed my Finding Hope, I've thanked the sender and encouraged her to share the book with her friends. I'm wildly in favor of sharing books, whether that's between friends, through libraries or book-swapping clubs, or via used-book stores. The way I figure it, if a few thousand people have ended up reading my book without paying me for the privilege, that's a few thousand more people who know my name. Surely some of them will run to the bookstore in March and buy my second novel so my husband can get those sexy wire wheels he wants for his '69 MG.
I've said all this before, but I'm bringing it up again today because I've just found a New York Times (registration required) article that backs up my theory about used book sales creating markets for new books (the italics in the blockquote are mine):
Go read the whole article. And then if you've got a copy of Finding Hope that you're not planning to read again, why not consider giving it away or selling it? The author hereby gives you her blessing.
True, consumers probably save a few dollars while authors and publishers may lose some sales from a used book market. Yet the evidence suggests that the costs to publishers are not large, and also suggests that the overall gains from such secondhand markets outweigh any losses.