Friday, May 14, 2010

The ethics of re-selling books (ones I don't agree with)

Ethics:  the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics. 

Am I being ethical when I re-sell books on Amazon that clearly don't share my politics?  If I no longer want a book, for whatever reason, and I decide I can re-sell it, should I?  Is it wrong of me to foist my former fundamentalist outlook on those who still have that viewpoint?  

What I'm talking about is the quandry I find myself in when I go to list books on Amazon with titles like this: 
1. Christian Politics Rocking America 
2. Turning the hearts of the fathers, by Ron Luce (with a contribution by Ted Haggard)
3. God Today

I mean, that #2 one is autographed by Ron Luce (not personalized).

What I'm thinking is that if I get a buck or two, why not?  Then again, I surely don't want to add even a smidgen to the Tea Party group!  While I don't agree with the conservative Fox-News watcher, I still have a Christian worldview in keeping with the mainstream church, and I want people to deepen their faith in a loving God of the Bible.  Reading certain books can support or point to differences that each of us feel about various issues.  

After all, I recently added "ads" to my blog, from which I gain a slight amount of cash when someone clicks on those ads.  I found a way to omit the political ones that I found offensive (and contrary to my political position), and I hope that the ones that are selected to accompany my blog will interest some readers.  Including ads on the blog seemed to make sense, but I don't want to contribute to anti-gay sentiment.

 I don't have any books by EX---S, and if I did, I'd burn them, because it's wrong to pass their information to ANYONE.   A few years ago I did re-sell some Focus on the Family stuff, when I cleaned out my stash of "books I'm never going to read."  I don't even like stuff from most Christian bookstores (never did).  I'm more into historical narratives, memoirs and biographies of long-dead pioneers, especially women and their stories. 

Here's my call for this issue:  I've tossed the Politics book in the trash can.  I won't re-sell any book that spews hatred.  But I don't mind making a little money on books I'm never going to pick up and read. 


Jarred said...

Re-selling a book that espouses views I don't agree with doesn't bother me from an ethical standpoint. This is because I don't view selling the book as in any way endorsing what the book says. I also see it as simply allowing other people to buy and read what they wish to, and trusting them to have the sense to draw their own conclusions about the validity of any book's arguments for themselves.

Of course, I should also note that I've been known to buy books with the knowledge that I'm going to disagree with them. In fact, I sometimes by them for that very reason. I like to know what those who disagree with me are saying so I can understand, address, and appropriately deconstruct their arguments if someone else asks me about them. So I don't necessarily see the purchase of a book as tacit endorsement of the book's views, either.

I also have this personal hangup about throwing away books, even when dealing with books I consider atrocious. (My friends say that the fastest way to get over that is to work at a library or used bookstore....)

Phil Boltz said...

Hi Mom,

Think of it this way, by selling books that you don't agree with, you're actually taking money away from supporters of causes that you don't agree with. In effect, misdirecting their monies from directly supporting groups that you oppose.

I'd also say that truth does win over falsehood. Let people read whatever they's all a wash in the end!

this is my first post on your blog!!


Alise said...

I'm with you. I don't generally resell books, but I do pass them on through PaperBackSwap. I won't pass on anything that I believe is dangerous (for me it's parenting stuff like the Ezzos), but just disagreeing? Meh. Even though I don't LIKE to, I'll still do it. And I hope that it's going to someone who is just wanting to see what the "other side" is thinking.

Paul said...

I went through exactly this same sort of thought process when cleaning out a whole bunch of conservative/religious/political books I'd collected (mostly been given) over my younger years. I planned on selling them all online. I started with one, a particular one that is now extremely offensive to me and I wish I could "un-read" - it sold immediately to a person in Kentucky. I had a hard time sleeping for awhile after that, thinking that I had somehow spread a tiny bit of the hatred and bigotry to someone else...and I threw the rest away.

I would never judge anyone for selling old books even if its content is not agreeable. I'm personally very against book banning/burning. And the pragmatic side of me realizes that it's possible that by selling an old book to someone, that some newer author who is perpetuating hatred and bigotry this isn't getting monetarily supported as much (which to me is a good thing).

Thanks for posting this, it's a tough issue to think through.

Steve F. said...

I am coming late to the party, so forgive that, please.

My feeling is that people who are going to buy a book on Amazon are going to buy it - whether from you, another seller or from the greater megaplex that is Amazon.

So you can either be (a) stuck with a book you don't like/don't need, or (b) get cash. It won't stop people from buying the book. But not selling it prevents you from recouping your loss on the book.