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Part Two: No, Authors, California Isn’t Abusing You (or Bookstores)

4812887503_87f63a470e_bAbout a week and a half ago I debunked the FUD about California supposedly passing a law which was going to make it difficult to sell an autographed book in that state.

I cited the Scrivener’s Error blog which had pointed out that the law only applied to "dealers" who were "principally in the business of selling or offering for sale collectibles", thus excluding most booksellers (and all authors).

Now I have a second opinion. covered the story last week, and after first posting the usual misinterpretation they updated their post with a correction:

A legislative source who asked not to be named as he is not officially deputized with the job of explaining things to the media tells me today that in his opinion of both the intent and the precise language of the bill, the sort of book dealers complaining about this should stop worrying: that the law is both not intended to apply to them and by the letter of it would not be interpreted as such.

The word he points to that he thinks absolves them? At 1739.7 (a) (4)(A) the definition of "Dealer" has an extra word than its definition in the text atop the bill, from which I directly quoted above, saying that a dealer "means a person who is principally in the business of selling or offering for sale collectibles."

With that word "principally," this source believes that a book dealer who only sells a few, some, or at any rate a small percentage of his total sales, autographed items (which is what "collectibles" means in the letter of this law) is not apt to be considered to have to obey this law and its onerous paperwork requirements.

So there you have it.

We now have two different sources offering a straightforward explanation as to why this law will not make California slide into the sea. The explanation makes more sense than the counter arguments, and

It is now clear that this story was initially blown all out of proportion.


image by bambe1964

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Ed Bear October 13, 2016 um 4:23 pm

"that the law is both not intended to apply to them and by the letter of it would not be interpreted as such."

Difficulty: There are too many power hungry jerks who use any interpretation of the law they favor if they can find a reason to do it. Look up civil forfeiture abuse via Google.

Nate Hoffelder October 13, 2016 um 4:48 pm

Assholes are gonna be assholes, yes, but the fact that someone may distort the law doesn’t change what the law says.

Ed Bear October 13, 2016 um 11:24 pm

Correct. However, it doesn’t change what said asshole DOES using the distortion as a justification. Try to find out just how many uncharged and unconvicted victims of civil forfeiture get their property back. Hint: you’ll need a good-quality microscope.

Shirley Dulcey October 13, 2016 um 5:46 pm

Most bookstores are in the clear, and that’s good. A bookstore that sells new books and has an author come over to sign a few should be fine.

But antiquarian booksellers are another matter. There are bookstores that specialize in rare books. They might well be ruled to be "principally in the business of selling collectibles" and be subject to this law. Even if they don’t specialize in signed books and don’t attempt to get a premium price for them over and above what the books already merit because of rarity, they could be stopped from selling those signed books

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