Readers of a certain age will recognize that headline as the title of Abbie Hoffman's 1970 counter-culture book. (I once interviewed Hoffman for The Miami Herald and received some nasty letters, but that's another story).
This has nothing to do with Hoffman's book. It's about our books -- the Naked Scribblers -- and yours, our faithful readers/writers.
There's a company out there depriving you of royalties. I'm not talking about Amazon's "used book" sales. They hurt, but Amazon sells tons of new books that are accounted for when royalties are calculated. And, as we said last week, the Amazon Kindle is going to save reading. (The Kindle 2 shipped yesterday to folks with $359 to spend. Prediction: Newspapers and magazines may soon give the Kindle away free in return for paid subscriptions. That can only help sell electronic books for all of us. The world is changing, my friends).
But back to my point. I'm talking about The Paradies Shops at airports. (I know; it looks like they tried to spell "Paradise" and failed. Or maybe they tried to spell "parodies." Either way, it's a clunky name, like "Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.").
Paradies sells books at airports, and the company does a good job. I'm grateful for that. Lately, I've been on some concourses where you can only buy $3 water and really bad nachos and melted-tire-tread-masquerading-as-cheese. And...I'll all for making books affordable. I think hardcover books should be less than $20.
But...Paradies has a "Read & Return" program that goes like this.
Take a mythical traveler. Call him Jim Born. At the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, Jim wanders into the Paradies Shop, looking for something to read. He hits the magazine rack, checks out "Guns & Ammo" and "Soldier of Fortune." Nah, he wants something a little less taxing. Over in hardcover books, he finds "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" by Jenna Jameson. It's $32.50 -- hey, it's got lots of pictures -- and he forks over two sweaty twenties.
Jim gets on the plane, reads a bit, and looks at all the pictures. A few hours later, he lands at LaGuardia, goes to the Paradies Shop there, returns the book and gets 50% back. With the $16.25, he hits the airport bar, but that's another story. (You have six months to return the book for a 50% return). Paradies then re-sells the book, and the process goes on and on. Needless to say, the authors get not a shekel from the re-sales.
The solution, of course, is to "steal this book." If you purloin the product, the retailer is not able to return it to the publisher, and the author will still receive royalties. (Please do not attempt this strategy at the airport in Tehran).
Okay, okay, don't do this. You should never steal anything except recreational drugs. But think of that $3 bottle of water Jim bought in Fort Lauderdale. When he gets to LaGuardia, they don't give him back $1.50 if he gives back...oh, never mind.
I'm interested in your comments about royalty ripoffs in the sale of used books.