Thrifty Or Shifty?

We all love a good deal. Better yet, finding something we have been meaning to read or play for pennies, it’s one of the simple joys in life.

More often than not, these deals are found on secondhand items. Whether it’s at our local charity shops, dedicated sites like AbeBooks or at a vintage fair. 

This rule applies to us nerds too. Although instead of cute vintage sweaters or antiques, it’s books and video games.

I adore secondhand bookshops and tend to buy games in shops like CEX rather than new ones.

Nine time out of ten, this is me at Barters Books

Thing is, there are some things we need to keep in mind with buying preloved books and games. Namely, supporting the creators. When we buy something secondhand, little to no money goes back to the creator.

Now, you might see that as a bonus and in some cases it certainly is. For example, you want to reread the Harry Potter books but do not want to support her? Buy the book secondhand, you are golden. Disagree with how a game developer treats employees? Buy the game secondhand.

Not to mention this rule doesn’t apply if, in the case of books mainly, the author has passed away. Most of my older books have been collected from secondhand shops.

Supporting creators, especially small and independent ones is vital. However, it would be idealistic of me to say that everyone should always buy new. Frankly, this isn’t always possible. Games are normally pretty pricey and in recent years when books are first published, they only are in hardback, bumping up the price. Paperbacks aren’t released for months.

For many of us, the only way we can get the games and books we love is by buying preloved. You know what? That is fine.

I feel guilty when I have to get the game I’m desperate for from CEX sometimes. But there are more ways to support creators than just buying. Admittedly, it is the main way but there are others. 

For example, spreading the word about something you love might get a few others to buy it too, chances are one of them will do it directly. If they are an online creator, consider donating to their Patron or buying cheaper merch from them. Things like that. 

If possible, try to buy first hand, but don’t feel guilty about buying secondhand. Supporting others is wonderful, but not if it comes at a great personal cost.

2 thoughts on “Thrifty Or Shifty?

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  1. A thought provoking post 🙂 Assuming a person could buy books or games firsthand, how much are they really supporting the creators? With the markups of the price in the supply chain (i.e. the publisher and the store among others) a lot of the money that is spent buying firsthand goes to other people other than the creator. What the creator actually receives may end up being a lot less than the price we pay buying firsthand.

    I would suggest looking into trying to buy the book or game directly from the creator if that is possible. That way as buyers of the content we get the product at a lower price since there is no markups. But also the creator gets a bigger share of the money we pay to buy the product.

    When that is not possible and we cannot buy firsthand, then we shouldn’t feel ashamed about buying secondhand. For one thing buying secondhand does help the environment. What would happen if there was no secondhand market? A lot of things that people buy and no longer interested in keeping would end up in landfills. As there is no alternative except placing the content we buy and don’t want to keep anymore in the trash.

    One thing you didn’t mention in ways to support the creator when buying secondhand is to let the creator themselves know what you think about what they created. Sure creators would love to have money at the very least to cover their own expenses for themselves, but they would also love to hear back from the people that use their creations. What the buyers love and hate about it so they can make more creations that people would be interested in buying. If possible instead of emailing, hand write a letter and mail it to the creator. That way it shows the creator how much their creation meant by taking the time to hand write the note. All it cost the person to do that is the price of a stamp.

    But I think there is one other aspect of the situation that wasn’t mention. What about the people who cannot afford to buy first or secondhand? The people that borrow the creator’s work from a library for example? In most cases, there is no direct benefit to the creator from someone borrowing their creation from a library. But borrowing from a library does indicate to the library what their users are interested in reading. Therefore the more people that borrow an author’s book from the library, the more likely the library will buy the author’s work in the future for their users benefit.

    In the end, we should look after ourselves along with the creator themselves. Don’t feel ashamed that we are not supporting the creator by buying secondhand or borrowing from a library. As there are other ways we can support the creator as your post indicated. Thank you for taking the time to illustrate that in your post 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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