Paul Constant writes a fascinating behind the scene take on remainder tables and the books that grace them at The Seattle Review of Books. The story is of Mark Mouser who is retiring from the venerable University Bookstore here in Seattle.
It's very much worth a read.
Mark and Paul's handling of this made me grateful, especially when the discussion comes around to authors finding their books on the table. Robert Michael Pyle is quoted as being not one of the upset authors who feels that the remainder table gives "second life" to a book.
I'll add a bit to that.
As a struggling, largely unknown writer I dream of being on the remainder table! After all, it means I at least got published and maybe someone else is going to read my book, and that is what it's mostly about for me. I long ago gave up any notion of making an actual living at this vocation. But when someone I don't know mentions me, or that they liked a particular line, I feel wonderful. Not because it stokes my ego although there is some of that to be sure.
No! It's that fragile, unforeseen connection I've made with another human being. I felt this long ago reading other writers, and occasionally I get to share that with them. Louise Erdrich being a prime example. I got to meet God once when She was at Seattle Arts & Lectures and She was as inspiring, intelligent, gracious and beautiful as her novels.
Have I bought some of her books on remainder? Of course. When I wanted one, and I didn't have a lot of money (see "struggling" aspect above). So if you are a writer on a tight budget, (and I know few who aren't), remainder books can help fill the gap between buying new and the library. (Both highly recommended as well.)
And there is the serendipity that Mouser mentions in the article as well. You never know what you'll find there. A chance discovery that Amazon's algorithms still can't match, as far as I'm concerned.