Is it ok to read second-hand books?


When I buy second-hand books, the author of the book does not get a direct benefit from my purchase. Will this be considered an injustice towards the author of the book?  

10 Answers

Of course more than ok ,we r recycling, re using and being wise with resources. As for writers royalty I think we can buy another of his new book and then share with the one we borrowed from!


I liked your question. Though your question is on second hand books - I have something to share on the concept of borrowed reading where the owner of the book does not directly benefit as well.  Personally - I have borrowed books and then later purchased the very same books because I wanted to keep a copy. A very big example being Gurudev's books. The first copy of some of his books were read by me by having borrowed them. I returned them to the owner in good condition. Later, since I loved them so much and his views resonated with mine and left a deep impact in me that I purchased them. I purchased a few books every month - because by the time I started reading his books he had written almost all his books. Once I had already crossed 5 or perhaps 6 books of his that I started preordering. I had ordered Rainmaker as soon as it had come out and it took me 2 weeks to get it. So I guess borrowing them is not an issue. We borrow books from the library too and it may not be practically feasible for everyone to purchase a whole lot of books due to financial crunches, space related issues, convenience sake or for any other matter. As far as we are not reproducing and distributing them or doing anything which is illegal, immoral and unethical with those books - I think we should be fine. I love buying books because I am a voracious reader. Plus, I don't enjoy soft copies - therefore for me buying is a plus. I love touching the paper and smelling them once it gets delivered too. Happy reading! 


I think it's quite alright. The author has received royalty for the book when it was bought for the first time by the user. If anyone buys it second hand, they would not be depriving the author from anything because the author would have already received his fair share from that particular copy of the book.


Well, you might be interested in knowing an author's view on the question. 

Hear it from the Horses' mouth, as they say. 

Just not second hand books, but pirated copies (photo copies of the book) and now digitial/pdf prints are a huge source of revenue loss for the Author.

But I am reminded of a conversation which Tim Ferris (very very famous author) described about how he was fuming when he saw pirated copies of his book selling in streets of China. It was his noble friend who consoled him and said "the buyers of the pirated copies would not have paid for your book anyway, they would have figured out some other way to read the book for free. So do not fret. The fact that it has your name and they know it was written by you, is good enough.'

For a very famous author, loss of revenue through these means, genuinely does not make much differnece, as there are enough readers who will pay for a fresh copy.

For small, upcoming and new authors, its too early to fret over lost revenue, we are more keen to establish a brand and a dedicated user base. 


From the point of recycling it's perfectly fine but as far as royalty goes yes, an author will be denied an income from a sale. In cases like best selling novelists it's fine because their sales or so huge it doesn't really matter but if it's a lesser known author you should probably just buy a copy.


Hi Suchali, great question. You have beautiful empathy towards the authors of the books. It's their source of income. I am not sure if buying second hand books is allowed or not but I know piracy is a big 'no.! In the lack of this information I am not sure if it's an ethical practice or no. But my views are below. 

In my view, it's ok to read second hand or borrowed books. Once I read an author say that let the flow of knowledge carry on by sharing books not hoarding them. I used to be very protective of my books but after reading this I started to pass my books on, however I did want them back once read in decent condition to be able to re-read when I wish to. In some cases I never got my books back and that's sad. haha..

But I get your point, we are talking about buying second-hand books, which is also fine by me. Sometimes students need them just for a semester or sometimes one can not afford a fresh copy or sometimes one reads a second hand copy and places an order for a brand new copy for the love of it.

I am against piracy or any other unethical ways of buying and reading.



Suchali ji,

Sometimes users cannot afford new books. The market in second-hand books enhances the fame of the author and then those who can afford it end up buying the book.


According to me, if I want to read book and I am really a book lover. I will go for a membership in library so I can read a lot of book in a very short span. I personally don't feel any problem in buying second hand book. But also I don't feel harm in buying new book because in round way if money is your problem then after selling it as a second book to those , the problem of money is solved.


in my view, it is ok to read second hand books because not everyone can afford new books especially students who has to save money to do lot of other things as well like paying rent, groceries, medical bills, tuition fees, so if you are one of them its perfectly fine to read second hand books but if you can afford to buy new one then buy it because it will help the author of the book as well because you know how much hard work and dedication one has to put in to write one book, its not an easy task so we have to appreciate it. So, it depends upon the situation of the person, if you can afford buy a new one , if not read the second hand. Its as simple as that. Hope it helps little bit


Why not?  All through my student life I did this as couldn't afford new ones. My attraction was so strong that once from Delhi Public Library (biggest govt. run in Delhi) I purchased around 50 R. Ds (Reader's Digest), all old ones, at just 50 paise per copy. I relished them so much..... kept them gor years with me. 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰. Somehow my feeling for READING as a hobby is so high that I feel beg, borrow or even STEAL,😀😀😀😀,  but do read, read and read my dear countrymen. This is the shortest route yo RICHES of all types🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰.  Happy reading ❤

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