General Question

Stinley's avatar

Can books be sold second hand legally?

Asked by Stinley (11505points) June 12th, 2011

My brother in law won’t buy second hand books because he says it’s illegal. He’s wrong, isn’t he?

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18 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

Yes, he’s wrong.

Vortico's avatar

I believe thousands of used book store owners would disagree with him.

Although there are few cases in which certain publishers do not authorize book sellers to sell their books outside of their country or subcontinent, I’ve never heard of a government-enforced law which bans selling used books.

jrpowell's avatar

It is legal.

I remember back in the day the RIAA tried to get a law passed making it illegal to sell used CDs. They failed.

shego's avatar

He’s wrong, my favorite bookstore is a used bookstore.

WasCy's avatar

Completely wrong.

Books with covers ripped off are intended to be destroyed (instead of incurring added cost to ship back to the publisher as “unable to sell”), and cannot legally be sold by retailers. Even then, that’s only enforced by publishers; not a police matter.

janbb's avatar

He is wrong. Selling stolen books is illegal, otherwise it is not.

incendiary_dan's avatar

There’s a legal term that I can’t remember that basically states that the buyer of a product with a trademarked logo or otherwise copyrighted material on it can resell that product. It might have stated that it has to be presented as the original company’s creation. I learned about that while selling bottlecap belts and reading how someone was sent a warning and threatened with legal action for turning bottle caps into jewelry. I’m sure the same applies to books.

marinelife's avatar

It is perfectly legal to re-sell used books.

squirbel's avatar

He is very wrong. lol. So wrong.

chyna's avatar

He is wrong, but I have seen a message similar to this on the inside of paperback covers, “If you have purchased this book without the cover it is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and no payment made for this “stripped” book.

fundevogel's avatar

It sounds like he’s rather concerned with the the fact that authors are only paid when the book is first sold. I can sympathize with his concern for the author but reselling certainly isn’t illegal.

For what it’s worth Robert Rauschenberg rocked the art business over this issue. Sort of. It’s different with art since art is resold all the time, as an investment much of the time, and the value of art can go up expontentially. This meant that in the past very little of the money made off of art went to the artist while investors made an arm and a leg off artists work and notoriety. Rauschenberg thought that was pretty shitty and he did something about it. Now a percentage of the reselling price goes back to the artist (if I remember correctly).

It’s a noble adjustment to the system, but reselling art and books are really different beasts. Books typically drop in price on resale so authors aren’t constantly losing more and more money as the value of their books rise. It would be neat though if a small percentage of used books salrs went back to support authors. It would be unwieldy trying to get residuals back to specific authors, but it would be nice to set up a fund to help authors get insurance or something like that. I’m pretty sure there are programs like that for artists and musicians.

TheIntern55's avatar

I often buy books from tag sales for only 50 cents. Not illegal, just amazingly cheap.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Yes. Very very very very very very very wrong. I’ve bought many books second hand and sell them. Is he thinking germ wise?

JLeslie's avatar

It is probably illegal to reproduce copies of a book and sell them, maybe that is what he is thinking? Like burning a CD and selling the copies would be illegal. But, the original CD, if you buy it, you can later sell it, same with books.

Stinley's avatar

I think it is probably as @fundevogel says since he is a man of principle (not necessarily the same principles as me but there you go). Don’t know why he can’t just buy the book then send a few pennies to the author himself if he’s that bothered!

dabbler's avatar

Does he only buy new cars too? What does he do with his old car?
There isn’t anything more illegal about selling a used book.

Stinley's avatar

@dabbler Yep, I’m going to suggest to him that anything he buy which is not directly from the manufacturer he should take the time to find out who made it and send them a small percentage of the price he paid. Not too much maybe 0.1% or something. Because that’s where the logic take you. Surely anything from a shop is second hand because they’ve generally not made it? Everytime he buys a loaf of bread he should send some pennies to Warburtons or Hovis. It would be ok if it were a baker who had made it, wouldn’t it? But what about the farmer that grew the wheat – should the farmer not get a share too? It’s just too silly to contemplate.

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