Publishing News carries the following report, which we take the liberty of quoting in full:
RANDOM HOUSE IS taking steps to prevent the sale of manuscripts, proofs, advance copies and free finished books on Internet sites such as eBay. It has issued a warning to staff that �the unauthorized sale of company property� is taken very seriously and may be a disciplinary matter, and copies distributed externally will carry a �clear notice� as to their use, stressing that they are not for sale. �The unauthorized sale of manuscripts, proofs and advance copies can at the least cause embarrassment to us and at worst ruin a serialisation or publicity campaign,� said a company notice, adding: �It may also cause financial harm to us and our authors. Any member of staff who buys books on the Group staff discount scheme must do so for their own use or as gifts, and not for sale or re-sale to, or by, any third party.� The publisher says advance copies should only be given to people who have a genuine interest in using the book for publicity and sales purposes, and it will be monitoring eBay and will move to have any advance copies, proofs or sales material on the site taken down.
ACHUKA sells proof copies on eBay, so here is our response to this:
1. We openly offer proof copies and sundry other items to collectors on eBay and the proceeds are extremely helpful in contributing to the running costs of this free-access website. All proceeds from our auctions are fully accounted for and included in our tax return.
2. We do not list an advance proof copy until after the book has been officially published.
3. We offer items for auction, rather than for sale, although we regard this as a fairly irrelevant distinction.
4. The description 'not for re-sale' is there to prevent such a title being sold across the counter in a regular bookshop. It cannot be considered a catch-all sale embargo. In a free trade environment every article has an exchange value. Proof copies are no exception, and recently have been prized by collectors as the first bound incarnation of a title.
5. Down the ages it has been a recognized perk of the literary hack's trade that review copies (proofs and first editions) could be exchanged for cash at the local second-hand bookshop. ACHUKA disposes of large numbers of 'review copies' to local schools and charity shops. The charity shops 'sell' such 'free finished books', and why not.
6. Random House say they 'will be monitoring eBay and will move to have any advance copies, proofs or sales material on the site taken down.' This is a draconian attack on freedom of activity and we hope eBay will have nothing to do with it.